Male: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be conferred with the Maldives’ highest honour “Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen” during his visit to the country, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid announced on Saturday.
Modi will reach the Indian Ocean archipelago on Saturday in his first bilateral visit after retaining power in the Lok Sabha polls.
“The Most Honourable Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen” is the Maldives’ highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries, Foreign Minister Shahid said on Twitter.
“President @ibusolih has announced his decision to confer on PM of India H.E. @narendramodi the Maldives highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries, “The Most Honourable Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen” during PM’s visit today. Namaskar, Swagatham,” Shahid tweeted.
President @ibusolih has announced his decision to confer on PM of India H.E. @narendramodi the Maldives highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries, “The Most Honourable Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen” during PM’s visit today. Namaskar, Swagatham ?
— Abdulla Shahid ? (@abdulla_shahid) June 8, 2019
Prime Minister Modi Friday said his visit to the Maldives reflects the importance India attaches to its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
Modi said India considers the country as a valued partner with whom it shares deep bonds of history and culture.
The prime minister visited the Maldives in November to attend President Ibrahim Solih’s swearing-in ceremony.
The Maldives-India relations
The Maldives is located south of India’s Lakshadweep Islands in the Indian Ocean. Both nations established diplomatic relations after the independence of Maldives from British rule in 1966.
India was one of the first nations to recognise Maldives’ independence.
Since then, India and Maldives have developed close strategic, military, economic and cultural relations. India has supported Maldives’ policy of keeping regional issues and struggles away from itself, and the latter has seen friendship with India as a source of aid as well as a counterbalance to Sri Lanka, which is in proximity to the island nation and its largest trading partner.
The relations between India and the Maldives deteriorated after the then President Abdulla Yameen imposed emergency on 5 February last year.
Maldives’ first democratically elected President from 2008 to 2012 Mohammed Nasheed was arrested on 22 February 2015 on terror charges. India and the US expressed concern over Nasheed’s arrest and manhandling.
Prime Minister Modi was to also visit the Maldives in the second week of March as a part four-nation visit to Indian Ocean neighbours. But he later omitted the Maldives from his tour itinerary.
The India-Maldives relations were back on track under Solih’s presidency.