PM Modi arrives in Maldives on his first foreign visit of second term
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the Maldives on Saturday afternoon to strengthen New Delhi’s ties with Male in his first foreign visit after retaining power.
He will hold talks with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
“We regard the Maldives as a valued partner with whom we share deep bonds of history and culture. Our bilateral relations with the Maldives have been greatly strengthened in the recent past. I am confident that my visit will further deepen our multifaceted partnership,” Modi said in a statement before his departure.
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He will also visit Sri Lanka as Indian underlines its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
Modi had visited the Maldives last November to attend President Solih’s swearing-in but it wasn’t a full-fledged state visit.
“We had the pleasure of receiving President Solih in December last year. I also had the opportunity to attend the inauguration of President Solih in November 2018. My visit to the Maldives is reflective of the importance we both attach to our relationship as maritime neighbours and long-standing friends,” Modi said.
According to ANI, President Solih will confer on Modi,Maldives’ highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries, ‘The Most Honourable Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen’.
Bilateral ties with the Maldives had soured after then President Abdulla Yameen declared emergency last February. The frayed relationship has been repaired under Solih’s leadership.
The visit is reflective of the new momentum in high-level exchanges between India and the Maldives, the External Affairs Ministry said. The PM will address the People’s Majlis, the Maldives’ parliament. Modi is visiting the Maldives at the invitation of Solih.
India is also helping Maldives to develop cricket in the country. Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said on Thursday that New Delhi will help Male groom its national cricket team to international standards, build a stadium there and also train umpires and scorekeepers.