The Maldivian government Saturday announced it will confer its highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries, Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen, on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Prime Minister will depart to the Maldives on his first bilateral visit Saturday after returning to power.
The decision taken by Maldives President Ibrahim Mohammad Solih was announced by Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid on Twitter. “President @ibusolih has announced his decision to confer on PM of India H.E. @narendramodi the Maldives highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries, ‘The Most Honourable Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen’ during PM’s visit today. Namaskar, Swagatham,” Shahid tweeted.
Before leaving for the Maldives, PM Modi in a speech said his visit reflects the importance the two countries attach to their relationship as “maritime neighbours and long-standing friends”. He added, “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.”
During his visit, Modi and President Solih will jointly inaugurate two projects — the Coastal Surveillance Radar System and the Composite Training Centre of the Maldives National Defence Forces. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale described the two as “important projects”, valued at about Rs 180 crore, which will be remotely inaugurated by the two leaders.
This is part of weaning away the Maldives from Beijing, as China has made deep inroads into the Maldivian establishment during the Abdulla Yameen regime.
Following his engagement in the Maldives, Modi will head to Sri Lanka on the second leg of the trip. During the visit, he will review the progress on a key trilateral MoU which India, Japan and Sri Lanka have signed — the development of the East Container Terminal in Colombo.