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India gives utmost importance to its relationship with Maldives: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India gives utmost importance to its relationship with Maldives while receiving the Nishan Izzuddeen medal, the country's highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries, here on Saturday.

"India gives utmost importance to its relationship with Maldives. 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," the Prime Minister said at the event.

Modi is currently on a two-day visit to Maldives and Sri Lanka, which is the first bilateral engagement the leader is undertaking after being sworn-in as the Prime Minister for a second term on May 30.

"I am glad to have the honour to visit your beautiful country as my first overseas trip after being elected for the second term," Modi said, thanking "close friend" Maldives for according a grand welcome to him.

Thanking the country for bestowing its highest honour upon him, the Prime Minister outlined that it's a moment of pride for every Indian.

"I humbly accept this award on behalf of all Indians. This is not just an honour conferred upon me but it is respect given to the friendship and relations between our two countries."

He went on to highlight the "unbreakable" relationship between India and Maldives during his speech. Modi also said that he held positive talks with Maldives President Ibrahim Solih before the event.

Speaking further, he highlighted measures being taken to increase the number of Indian tourists to Maldives.

"By issuing RuPay Card in Maldives, there will be an increase in the number of Indian tourists in Maldives. We will soon take measures in this direction. Also, there have been discussions over making the defence services stronger in Maldives," he stated.

The key highlight of this visit is Modi's address to the Majlis (Maldivian Parliament) on Saturday evening.

"PM Modi's official visit to the Maldives, especially his address at the Parliament signifies the importance that the Maldives attaches with India. It reflects the good relationship between the two countries," said Hassan Ziyau, the media director of the Majlis.

"I am sure, PM's visit would further strengthen the existing relation between India and the Maldives. The Speaker of the Parliament, former President Mohamed Nasheed and the members of the parliament are ready to welcome PM Modi and his delegation to the People's Majlis," he added.

Last Month, the Maldivian Parliament unanimously passed a resolution for inviting Modi to address the House during his visit.

PM Modi's visit to the island nation is significant as it's the only country in South Asia that he did not visit for bilateral talks during his first term as the Prime Minister.

He will also have a halt in Sri Lanka on his way back, underlining his government's continued commitment towards its 'Neighbourhood First' policy.