PM’s first foreign tour aimed at securing India’s security perimeters: Ambassador Fabian
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his maiden overseas visit after being re-elected, is visiting the Maldives and Sri Lanka on June 8 and 9, two neigbours to the south of the country. Apart from the importance of having summit-level talks, the visit is significant also as it is to show solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka after the Easter Massacre, which killed 253 people in the island-nation.
Modi is to address the Maldivian parliament during his stay in Male, before flying to Colombo.
The choice of the two Indian Ocean nations for his first tour abroad after his reelection is aimed at further securing the area of India’s economic and security influence, former Ambassador K P Fabian said.
“Maldives and Sri Lanka are part of India’s security perimeter of India. A closer interaction and appropriate level of engagement with these countries are needed to secure not just our frontiers but also our economic interests. It is a welcome step for the political leadership of the country to have chosen these two countries to start their summit-level engagement,” Fabian told Asiaville.
We cannot change our neigbours. We have to find ways to work along with them. We all know about Maldives and its engagement with China in the past which was detrimental to Indian interests. A democratic change had taken place in the traditionally friendly island-nation and the new government has moved closer to India. The move has been properly reciprocated by India and this trip is a step ahead in the same direction, he adds.
“The visit is a reflection of the continued emphasis on the neighbourhood countries in his second term,” Indian Ministry of External Affairs communique stated, on the PM’s visit.
Foreign policy experts also believe that the choice of the Maldives and Sri Lanka is a sign of the government’s desire to forge stronger ties in the neigbourhood before embarking on a larger role in international fora.
“This is part of the reemphasis of the neigbourhood first policy of the Modi government which began in 2014. It seems Prime Minister and his government is interested to pursuing the policy with greater energy in the second tenure. Prime Minister Modi has been on record to say that India cannot attain its rightful place in international polity without taking the neigbours into confidence,” former Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar told Asiaville.
Prime Minister Modi tweet about the visit and said he hoped to further deepen bilateral ties with the Maldives.
I would be visiting the Maldives and Sri Lanka on 8th and 9th June. These visits indicate the importance we attach to the policy of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and will further cement ties with key maritime neighbours. https://t.co/vMW2cT55EZ— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 7, 2019
“We regard the Maldives as a valued partner with whom we share deep bonds of history and culture. Our bilateral relations with the Maldives have been greatly strengthened in the recent past. I am confident that my visit will further deepen our multifaceted partnership,” he said.
The people of India stand firmly with the people of Sri Lanka, who suffered great agony and destruction in the wake of the horrific terror attacks on Easter. We fully support Sri Lanka in the fight against terror.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 7, 2019