New Delhi: In his first overseas trip after being re-elected as the PM, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be visiting Sri Lanka and the Maldives later this week on June 8 and 9. It suggests that the country’s immediate neighbors are the prime focus when it comes to India’s foreign policy and strengthening the bilateral ties.
Also, the External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar will be on a 2-day visit to Bhutan,
which begins on Friday.
The upcoming foreign trips imply that rather than focusing on South Asia (that it did in the first term), Modi government is now looking to consolidate ties with smaller neighbors like Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Bhutan in its second term.
India’s relations with one other South Asian immediate neighboring nation Pakistan are at present complex and largely hostile and are unlikely to become cordial soon. The official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh Kumar said that he is not aware of any meeting planned between PM Modi and PM of Pakistan Imran Khan in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan next week on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.
During the two-day trip that begins on Saturday, PM Modi would first visit the Maldives as told by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.
In the eight years, it is an Indian PM’s first visit to Male at a bilateral level; the last one was by the Former PM Manmohan Singh in 2011.
Last year, PM Modi had paid a visit to Male in November for a short period to attend the swearing-in ceremony of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
On Thursday, Gokhale told reporters in New Delhi-
“The prime minister’s visit is focused on three objectives —firstly to maintain contacts at the highest level, secondly we want to assist the Maldives as their development partner in the revival and development of their economy and thirdly is of course to strengthen the people to people relations.”
Gokhale also said that PM Modi would extend a message of solidarity to the citizens of Sri Lanka who were recently hit by serial bomb blasts on 21 April.