New Delhi: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will spend this Diwali with soldiers in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, and days later head for the Philippines on her first tour abroad after taking over the present charge.
The Minister will head to the Andaman and Nicobar islands on October 18, and celebrate the Festival of Lights with soldiers at the tri-services command in Port Blair on October 19.
The Minister will visit the Philippines on October 24 and 25 for a "multilateral engagement", informed sources said.
Her visit to the South-East Asian country comes in the wake of its territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.
The Minister has a packed week ahead -- visit to Chennai in Tamil Nadu on October 14, and then Kerala on October 15 for the Bharatiya Janata Party`s `Jan Raksha Yatra`.
On October 16, the Minister will visit the port city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh for the commissioning of an anti-submarine warfare corvette INS Kiltan.
The Minister has been touring different defence installations and forward areas in the country ever since she took charge of the defence portfolio on September 6.