Male: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with the Maldives' highest honour "Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen" on Saturday during his two-day state visit to the Island country – his first foreign visit after coming to power for a second consecutive term.
The prestigious award was presented to PM Modi by Maldives' President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih during a ceremony here.
After receiving the honour, PM Modi said, ''Today, 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 the respect given to the friendship and relations between our two countries. India gives utmost importance to its relationship with the Maldives. We want to have a strong partnership with each other. India is willing to help the Maldives in every way possible. May the friendship between India and Maldives last forever.''
"The Most Honourable Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen" is the Maldives' highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said on Twitter.
PM Modi's visit aims at strengthening the bilateral ties, reflecting the importance India attaches to its 'Neighbourhood First' policy.
Upon his arrival at the Male airport, the PM was accorded a ceremonial reception and a 21-Gun Salute by the Maldives' armed forces.
— BJP LIVE (@BJPLive) June 8, 2019
PM Modi was received by the Foreign Minister of Maldives, Abdulla Shahid who tweeted that it was an honour for him to welcome the Indian leader.
During his two-day visit, the PM will also travel to Sri Lanka after the Maldives on June 9.
PM Modi’s visit is in tune with the 'India first policy' of Male and 'Neighbourhood First' policy of New Delhi.
The streets in Male were decked up with flags of India and Maldives, to welcome PM Modi and his delegation.
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) June 8, 2019
"It is a very historic visit. It will allow us to discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relations. All preparation is in place. It is a big honour for us as the visit has been given the status of a state visit, " Ambassador of India to the Maldives, Sunjay Sudhir, said.
The Prime Minister will meet Maldives President Ibrahim Solih and the two leaders are expected to sign several agreements related to customs cooperation, capacity building, defence and connectivity issues.
They will also jointly inaugurate a couple of projects, including the crucial coastal surveillance radar system, which is key to enhancing maritime security in the Indian Ocean region.
The Prime Minister is also scheduled to address the Maldives Parliament.
This is only the second time that any foreign leader will address the Majlis (Maldives Parliament.
Last Month, the Maldivian Parliament unanimously passed a resolution for inviting PM Modi to address the House during his visit.
Besides Solih, PM Modi will also meet Vice-President Faisal Naseem and Speaker of Majlis (the Maldivian Parliament) and former President Mohamed Nasheed.
PM Modi had earlier visited the island nation in November last year to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Solih, who assumed office after defeating Abdulla Yameen in the presidential polls.
During Solih`s visit to India in December, New Delhi had announced financial assistance of USD 1.4 billion to Male.
PM Modi will then visit Sri Lanka on June 9 and will hold meetings with the President, the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition of the island country.
(With Agency inputs)