Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday landed in the Maldives on his first foreign visit after being re-elected as Prime Minister to strengthen the bilateral ties, reflecting the importance India attaches to its ‘neighbourhood first’ policy.
Upon his arrival this evening, Modi was greeted at Male airport by Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and also received a ceremonial welcome by Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at Republic Square. Besides the dignitaries, Modi also received a warm welcome by the Indian community in the archipelago nation.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar today said that Modi and Solih held discussions on a wide range of issues. “Mutually beneficial partnership. Warm discussions marked the meeting between PM Modi and President of Maldives. Focus on further deepening our special relationship by expanding cooperation across sectors,” he said in a tweet.
After the Maldives, Modi is to travel to Sri Lanka for a one-day visit. Modi’s visit to the island nations is aimed at further cementing ties with the Indian Ocean archipelago.
Here’s all that happened in the Maldives today:
The ‘Majlis’ address: Modi stresses on state-sponsored terrorism
Addressing the Maldivian Parliament, the Majlis, Modi said that relations between India and Maldives are older than history. “It is an honour to be among all of you during your first session ever since former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed was elected as Parliament Speaker,” Modi said.
Modi in Maldives: Follow LIVE updates here
In his address, Modi touched upon the topic state-sponsored terrorist saying it happens to be the ‘biggest threat’ today for the world community.
“Terrorism is a danger not just for a country but the entire civilization. State-sponsored terrorism is the biggest threat today. It is important for the world community to come together to fight the challenge of terrorism and radicalization,” PM Modi said.
In an apparent reference to Pakistan, Modi said, “It is very unfortunate that people are still making the mistake of distinguishing between good terrorists and bad terrorists”.
“The water is now rising above the head,” Modi said as he urged the world leaders to unite for combating the menace.
Modi also said that India will contribute to the conservation of Maldives’ Friday Mosque also known as Hukuru Misiky. “There is no such mosque elsewhere in the world like this historical mosque made up of coral,” he said.
Built in 1658, Friday Mosque is one of the oldest and most ornate mosques in the city of Male in Kaafu Atoll.
The Nishan Izzudden honour
Prime Minister Modi was conferred with the Maldives’ highest honour “Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen” on Saturday during his visit to the country. The prestigious award was presented to Modi by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih during a ceremony held in Male.
“I have been conferred with Maldives’ highest honour, I humbly accept this it. It is not just an honour conferred upon me but it is respect given to the friendship and relations between our two countries,” PM Modi said.
RuPay, ferry service and many more: India, Maldives ink six pacts
During his visit, Modi and Maldivian President Solih held wide-ranging talks as the two countries signed six agreements to strengthen bilateral ties in a number of key areas including defence and maritime.
“India gives utmost importance to its relationship with Maldives. We want to have a strong partnership with each other. India is willing to help Maldives in every way possible. May the friendship between India and Maldives last forever,” PM Modi said.
Amongst the several Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries, the first was for cooperation in the fields of hydrography. Another was on health. Other agreements included the establishment of passenger and cargo services by sea.
Modi also said that ferry services between Kochi and Male will begin soon.
A technical agreement on sharing white shipping information between the Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defence Force was also signed.
Modi also announced the launch of RuPay card in the Maldives. While making this announcement, Modi said, “By issuing RuPay Card in Maldives, there will be an increase in the number of Indian tourists in Maldives. We will soon take measures in this direction”.
Modi also said that India will help promote cricket in the Maldives and fulfil President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s mission to develop the sport in the country to consolidate people-to-people relations.
Modi also gifted Solih a cricket bat signed by all the players of Team India taking part in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
Connected by cricket!
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 8, 2019
Sharing two photographs of the moment, PM Modi tweeted, “Connected by cricket! My friend, President Solih is an ardent cricket fan, so I presented him a cricket bat that has been signed by Team India playing at the CWC2019.”
Earlier, the External Affairs Ministry also had said that India is helping in training Maldivian cricketers and bringing the country’s team up to the requisite standard.
(Inputs from PTI)