PM Modi
PM Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the Maldives and Sri Lanka on June 8 and 9, his first visits after taking office in his second term. Prime Minister Modi will also address the Maldivian Parliament on June 8, said Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale here on Thursday.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting the Maldives and Sri Lanka on June 8 and 9. Prime Minister Modi will also address the Maldivian Parliament on 8th June," said Gokhale.

"Prime Minister will make a short and packed visit to Sri Lanka on June 9. This is the first visit by a foreign leader to Sri Lanka after the tragic events of the April 21 after several bomb blasts resulted in huge casualties in Sri Lanka. It is a very special gesture and it is a very clear message of solidarity that the people and government of India stand firmly with the people and government of Sri Lanka at this tragic time," he said.

Speaking about Modi's visit to the Maldives, Gokhale said, "This is the first visit of our Prime Minister to the Maldives since 2011 the last visit was by former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh for SAARC bilateral summit. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee went to the Maldives in 2002. We have Prime Minister visiting the Maldives after more than eight years."

"The Prime minister's visit, of course, continues the tradition of regular top-level exchanges and I want to recall that after the election of the current government in the Maldives, we have had the visit of the foreign minister Abdulla Shahid in November 2018, President Solih in December 2018, Defence minister Mariya Didi in January 2019 and former external affairs in March 2019 and now the forthcoming visit of PM to the Maldives," he added.

Giving details of Prime Minister Modi's visit to the Maldives, the Foreign Secretay said, "In the course of the last eight months, we had intensive exchanges at the highest level and the ministerial level. After the official ceremony, there will be a meeting with President Solih and with Vice President Naseem, the Speaker Nasheed and leaders of some of the political parties." "Prime Minister is invited to address the Majlish which he will do on June 8. In overall terms, there has been significant progress in terms of bilateral relationship since President Soli has been elected in November 2018," he added.

Informing about the bilateral agreements between India and the Maldives Gokhale said, "We have signed a Visa facilitation agreement which is coming to force in March which is important because it addresses the number of issues the government of Maldives had in terms of Visas particularly for students and for those who come for medical treatment and from our perspective it has given us number of benefits particularly for Indian businessmen travelling to the Maldives." "We pledged budgetary support to the government of Maldives to US dollars 200 million, 50 million dollars has been given as cash support for budgetary and the rest of it will be terms of treasury bills which is an ongoing process as and when the Central bank issues this treasury bills," he added.

The Foreign Secretary further said, "We are in the process of finalising currency swap agreement which is under SAARC. They had requested for the enhancement of the amount as well as the extension of the rollover period and that is close to finalization." "President and Prime Minister will jointly inaugurate two projects Coastal Surveillance Radar system and Composite training centre for the Maldives national defence forces. The total value of these two important projects is approximately 180 crore," he added.

Detailing about the financial aid offered to the Maldives, Gokhale said, "We also offered the Maldives a line of credit 800 million us dollars and I am happy to inform you that three important projects have already been identified and the project report preparation is underway. One is Water supply and sewerage for 36 of the Islands which are inhabited, another one is Addu Urban development Centre and the third project is the SME Development Financing project. Of course, there are other projects in the pipeline but these are still being examined."

He further said, "A BCCI team visited the Maldives earlier this month. There are a number of ways in which we can assist, one of them is to build a cricket stadium under a Line of Credit or some other means of financial assistance. They have requested for a coaching program for young Maldivian players, both men and women, in India. They would like some training programmes in the Maldives. Indian Government has already given them some training kits. We hope BCCI takes additional responsibility in this regard."

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