INDIA Reaffirms Friendship, Cooperation With Maldives & Srilanka

AFTER successful tour to Maldives archipelago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Sri Lanka as part of his neighbourhood first policy .He visited Maldives, a predominately Muslim dominated nation, accepting the unanimous invite by the country’s parliament called Majlis to address its Members. It is the first country he visited after his –re-election as India’s PM on May 30 for the second term. In 2014, his first foreign trip after becoming PM was Bhutan, a monarchical democracy. This year, he deputed his Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar, acclaimed as one of the world’s competent diplomats by the diplomatic community to Bhutan. The career diplomat was Secretary for external affairs and is an expert on Chinese and U S affairs. In Thimpu, Jaishankar on Friday met Bhutan’s top leadership, including Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, and discussed important elements of the bilateral ties with emphasis on development partnership and cooperation in the hydropower sector with the Buddhist nation close to China and Nepal’s borders. In Maldives, PM Modi was given the nation’s highest honour- Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen. “I dedicate this award to the values and ethos of India, as well as the everlasting friendship between India and Maldives”, he said. Modi and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had extensive dialogues on several bilateral and regional issues. Later, the two countries signed six agreements to strengthen bilateral ties in a number of key areas, including defence and maritime. Addressing the  Majlis (pic above ) at Male  PM Modi in a  veiled attack on Pakistan, said that state sponsorship of terrorism is the biggest threat faced by humanity as he called upon world leaders to unite to combat the menace.”Terrorism is not just a threat for a country, but to the entire civilisation. It is very unfortunate that people are still making the mistake of distinguishing between good terrorists and bad terrorists. State sponsorship of terrorism is the biggest threat the world is facing today,” he said. Spokesperson for the External Affairs Ministry Raveesh Kumar said the two leaders held warm discussions. The first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was for cooperation in the fields of hydrography while another was on health. The other agreements included the establishment of passenger and cargo services by sea, cooperation in customs capacity-building between the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs of India and the Maldives Customs Service. Another pact was signed between the National Centre for Good Governance, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances and the Maldives Civil Service Commission on training and capacity building programme for Maldivian civil servants. A technical agreement on sharing white shipping information between the Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defence Force was also signed. A coastal surveillance radar system and a composite training centre for the Maldives defence forces were jointly inaugurated by the two leaders, Raveesh Kumar said. After the talks, Modi said the focus of the various projects to be undertaken by India in the Maldives would be to touch people’s lives. He said that India has agreed on the construction of a Friday Mosque in the southern part of the island where an urban development centre is being built. The two countries have also agreed to start a ferry service between Kochi and the Maldives, Modi said. The launch of RuPay Card in the Maldives will give a boost to tourism in the island nation, he added.”There have been discussions on making the defence services stronger in Maldives. India wants a strong relationship with the Maldives and believes that a strong and prosperous Maldives will be in the interest of the region,” Modi said, adding that maritime and defence ties are a top priority and the radar system will boost maritime security (edited by Pranab Kumar Chakravarty).

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