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PM Narendra Modi addresses Maldives Parliament, says state-sponsored terrorism biggest threat

Male the capital of Maldives

Modi is in Male on a day long visit, his first visit overseas after taking office for a second term on 30 May, underlining New Delhi's "neighbourhood first" foreign policy focus that has continued from his first term in office.

"Connected by cricket! My friend, President @ibusolih is an ardent cricket fan, so I presented him a cricket bat that has been signed by #TeamIndia playing at the #CWC19", PM Modi tweeted.

PM Narendra Modi conferred with Maldives" highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries, "The Most Honourable Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen'.

Addressing the People's Majlis in Maldives, the Prime Minister said, "I am happy that Maldives is working towards sustainable development and has become a part of the International Solar Alliance".

The parliament's secretary general told RaajjeMV that the minister has a hectic schedule for the two-day trip, and that it was set for that time "because it was the only available time for the prime minister". The Prime Minister said India considers the Maldives as a valued partner with whom it shares deep bonds of history and culture.

Modi arrived in the South Asian archipelago nation on Saturday to strengthen the bilateral ties on his first foreign visit since being elected to a second term, reflecting the importance India attaches to its "Neighbourhood First" policy. "I congratulate all of you and all the people of the Maldives on this occasion", Modi said.

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

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at Male, in Maldives, Saturday. "It is time for a global conference on terrorism", Modi said.

Ties between India and the Maldives have turned considerably warmer after the election of Solih as president in September.

Some decisions by Yameen including imposition of restrictions on work visas for Indians and signing of a new Free Trade Agreement with Beijing also did not go down well with New Delhi. President Sirisena attended his swearing-in ceremony and had a brief one-on-one meeting that official sources described as a demonstration of good will and strong ties between the neighbours.

"In the neighborhood, Maldives is priority", Modi said in his speech.

PM Modi is also scheduled to meet with former president Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom, leader of Jumhooree Party Gasim Ibrahim, leader of Adhaalath Party and Minister of Home Affairs Imran Abdulla and Vice President Faisal Naseem.

To assist the Maldives in its development and revival of its economy, a slew of MoUs are expected to be signed including budgetary support for development projects, extending the Line of Credit for projects like water supply and sewerage, high impact community development projects, customs and white shipping.

To consolidate people-to-people relations, Modi's latest emphasis is on cricket diplomacy in the island nation, helping the mission of President Solih to develop cricket, they said.

"There have been discussions over making the defense services stronger in Maldives", Modi said after the talks.

After the exchange of several agreements, the two leaders will remotely inaugurate a coastal surveillance radar system and a composite training centre for the Maldives National Defence Force, two projects with a total value of about US$30 million.