PM Modi to visit Maldives in first foreign tour in second term: Report
The Maldives is expected to be the destination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first foreign visit after leading the Bharatiya Janata Party to a sweeping victory in the general election, signalling India’s support for democratic reforms in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
The trip to Male will be first of a string of diplomatic engagements for Modi during June, with the Indian premier also set to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek during June 13-14 and the G20 Summit at Osaka in Japan during June 28-29.
An Indian official familiar with developments said Modi is expected to make a bilateral visit before the SCO Summit though an official announcement would be made at the appropriate time.
The Maldives’ state broadcaster Public Service Media reported the country would be the destination for his first overseas visit following his re-election. Other media outlets in the Maldives reported Modi is expected to visit during June 7-8. A spokesperson for the Maldives President’s Office, Ibrahim Hood, did not deny the visit.
PM Modi was the only head of state invited to attend President Ibrahim Solih’s inauguration in November. This was also Modi’s first visit to the country since assuming office in 2014 as he had called off a trip in the early days of his first term in office because of the suppression of opposition activists by former president Abdulla Yameen.
Solih’s first visit to India late last year was hailed as the beginning of a “new era” in bilateral relations after the traditionally close ties were strained under pro-China administration of Yameen.
In a phone call to Modi to congratulate him on his electoral victory, Solih stated his administration’s “resolve to build on the already positive foundations of cooperation and constructive engagement between our two governments” and conveyed his “optimism that the two leaders can meet in person, in the near future, to discuss the way forward for our mutual foreign relations”.
During his visit to Bishkek for the SCO Summit during June 13-14, Modi is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Modi and Xi are expected to discuss dates for the next informal summit between the two countries. China has also reached out to India against the backdrop of its trade war with the US.
The SCO Summit will also bring PM Modi face to face with his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan though there are no indications as yet that the two leaders will hold a bilateral meeting.
The G20 Summit will provide Modi an opportunity to interact with top world leaders, including US President Donald Trump. A meeting of leaders of BRICS states and the third Russia-India-China Summit are also expected to be held on the margins of the G-20 Summit.
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