On the eve of his departure to the Maldives and Sri Lanka, kicking off his first overseas visit after the elections, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the visit brings together two key policies of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region).
In a departure statement, Modi said, “I am confident that my visit to the Maldives and Sri Lanka will further strengthen our close and cordial ties with our maritime neighbours, in line with our ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and the vision of security and growth for all in the region.”
He further said, “We regard the Maldives as a valued partner… our bilateral relations with the Maldives have been greatly strengthened in the recent past.” India plans to help the Maldives develop its human resources and promised support for both its development and security.
On Sri Lanka, Modi said he wanted to “express solidarity with the government and the people of Sri Lanka in the wake of the terrible terrorist attacks there last Easter on April 21. India stands with Sri Lanka in the fight against terrorism”.
Modi will leave the Maldives on Sunday morning for Colombo and make a brief stop there before returning to Delhi.
“Our bilateral relations with Sri Lanka have gained considerable momentum in the last few years. I had the pleasure of meeting President Sirisena during his recent visit to India to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new government. I look forward to meeting the Sri Lankan leadership during my visit,” he said.
Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said among the important agreements to be signed will be one on hydrography that will help map the under-sea resources for Maldives. The Abdullah Yameen government had sat on this agreement while allowing China to build an observatory.
Other agreements will include customs agreements and a white shipping agreement. India has offered to develop the water supply and sewerage system for Addu city. India has also offered to upgrade the cultural and historical sites in Maldives. The Solih government has responded to the Indian outreach by signalling its cooperation. (The Times of India)