Published:  03:20 AM, 09 June 2019

Modi arrives in Maldives on first foreign visit after re-election

Modi arrives in Maldives on first foreign visit after re-election India considers Maldives a valued partner, Modi said ahead of the visit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Maldives today, for his first foreign visit after re-election. The visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral ties, between the two nations in accordance with India's ''Neighborhood First'' policy.PM Modi was received at Male airport by Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid.

"Friendship forever! PM @narendramodi arrives in Male, capital of Maldives to a warm reception by Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid. PM was last here for President (Ibrahim Mohamed) Solih's inauguration ceremony in November 2018," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Twitter.

While PM Modi visited Maldives in November 2018 to attend President Solih's swearing-in, this visit is the first by an Indian Prime Minister at a bilateral level in eight years. During the visit, PM Modi will be conferred with Maldives' highest honor for foreign dignitaries--"Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen"

"The Most Honorable Order of the Distinguished 'Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen' is the Maldives's highest honor for foreign dignitaries," Maldives Foreign Minister tweeted ahead of his visit.PM Modi will also address Maldives Parliament, the Majlis. He is expected to meet the country's top leaders.

To assist the Maldives in its development and revival of its economy, a slew of MoUs are expected to be signed including budgetary support for development projects, extending the Line of Credit for projects like water supply and sewerage, high impact community development projects, customs and white shipping, official sources said.

To consolidate people-to-people relations, PM Modi's latest emphasis is on cricket diplomacy in the island nation, helping the mission of President Solih to develop cricket, they said.Giving a push to enhance connectivity, India is planning to start a ferry service from Kochi to the Maldives, the sources said.

The two leaders will jointly inaugurate two defense related projects - a coastal surveillance radar system and composite training centre for Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF), strengthening defense ties, they said.PM Modi is also expected to hold separate discussions with Foreign Minister Shahid and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

---PTI

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