Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapping up his two-nation official trip in Colombo on Sunday (Photo/ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapping up his two-nation official trip in Colombo on Sunday (Photo/ANI)

Neighbourhood First: Modi wraps up 2-nation visit to Maldives, Sri Lanka

ANI | Updated: Jun 09, 2019 21:40 IST

New Delhi [India], Jun 9 (ANI): Highlighting the importance India attaches to its neighbourhood, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday wrapped up his first overseas bilateral trip to Maldives and Sri Lanka after assuming office for a second term.
He visited the two island nations within 24 hours, taking part in 15 engagements in total, according to Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
"24 hours - 2 countries - 15 engagements. PM @narendramodi emplanes for Delhi after a successful visit to Maldives and Sri Lanka, demonstrating our priority to #NeighbourhoodFirst. Seen off by Sri Lankan PM @RW_UNP," Kumar tweeted on June 9.
Starting off his first two-nation overseas trip after assuming office for a second term, Modi arrived in Maldives to a grand ceremonial welcome on June 8.
The Prime Minister was conferred with the Nishan Izzudeen medal - the highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries by Maldives - by the island nation's President, Ibrahim Solih, during a ceremony in Malé.
Receiving the award, Modi said that India gives utmost importance to its relationship with Maldives.
"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," the Prime Minister said at the event.
The two countries also held a bilateral, following which six documents were exchanged between India and Maldives, including Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) in health, hydrography and customs capacity building, to name a few. Modi and Solih further inaugurated two projects on Composite Training Centre and Coastal Surveillance Radar System on Saturday.
The Prime Minister also addressed the People's Majlis, meeting former Maldivian President and recently-elected Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed.
"Inviting the Prime Minister to address was the first decision of the new Majlis, reflecting the close bonds of friendship between India and Maldives," the MEA Spokesperson stated.
The Prime Minister then headed for Sri Lanka on Sunday, after completing his official engagements in Maldives.
Showing India's solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka, the Indian Prime Minister became the first leader to visit the country after the Easter terror attacks, which killed over 250 people and wounded hundreds of others.
Shortly after landing, Modi paid his respect at the St Anthony's Shrine in Colombo, which was one of the eight locations targetted by terrorists on April 21.
"I am confident Sri Lanka will rise again. Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka," Modi tweeted after visiting the church.
He was welcomed at the President's Secretariat by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, where a bilateral was later held between India and Sri Lanka.
Sirisena was one of the BIMSTEC leaders who had attended Modi's swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi on May 30. The two sides had also held a bilateral the next day.
Modi also met former President and the incumbent Leader of Opposition, Mahinda Rajapaksa, during his whirlwind official visit. A Tamil National Alliance (TNA) delegation led by R Sampanthan also called on the PM, extending their wishes on his electoral victory in the recently culminated Lok Sabha elections 2019.
Wrapping up his first overseas bilateral trip, Modi was seen off at the airport by his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, who had also received the leader upon his arrival in Colombo.
"I had a short but immensely fruitful Sri Lanka visit. Sri Lanka has a special place in our hearts. I assure my sisters and brothers of Sri Lanka that India will always be there with you and support your nation's progress. Thank you for the memorable welcome and hospitality," Modi lastly tweeted, before emplaning for home. (ANI)