Male, Jun 8 : Visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on Saturday conferred by Maldives with the highest honour for any foreign dignitary- the 'Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen'- on his maiden foreign visit after assumption of office for the second term.
Mr Modi was bestowed the award by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.At the end of bilateral talks, both sides inked MoUs and the two leaders also inaugurated two defence projects.Mr Modi said he was humbled by the gesture shown by the Maldives and this award was a matter of pride for entire India.
"It is not just an honour conferred upon me but it is respect given to the friendship and relations between our two countries," he said."India-Maldives ties should remain immortal," he said.
Grand welcome On his arrival, Mr Modi was received by President Solih and Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and accorded a grand welcome and a 21-gun salute.Mr Modi also presented a cricket bat to the Maldives president.
"Connected by cricket. My friend, President Solih is an ardent cricket fan, so I presented him a cricket bat that has been signed by Team India playing at the Cricket World Cup 2019," the Prime Minister tweeted.Besides, India is expected to extend support to the Maldives to construct a cricket stadium.
Mr Shahid exuded confidence that India-Maldives bilateral relationship will touch new heights and described Mr Modi's visit to the island nation as a 'momentous' occasion.
"Great Honour to receive PM Narendra Modi at Velana International Airport on his first State Visit overseas after taking oath for a second term," Mr Shahid tweeted.He averred,"No doubt, this will be a momentous visit that would elevate Maldives-India relationship to new heights".
Win-win South Block said India and Maldives will work on mutually beneficial partnership and expand the ties across multiple sectors.
After the two sides held bilateral talks, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar tweeted, "Mutually beneficial partnership. Warm discussions marked the meeting between PM Narendra Modi & President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Focus on further deepening our special relationship by expanding cooperation across sectors". In his speech after receiving the award, the Prime Minister said - India gives utmost importance to its relationship with Maldives. Mr Modi added, "We want to have a strong partnership with each other. India is willing to help Maldives in every way possible. May the friendship between India and Maldives last forever." (UNI)