Indian Premier concludes Sri Lanka visit pledging to strengthen bilateral ties further

Narendra Modi in Maldives: PM Arrives in Male on His First Overseas Visit After re-election

India spends big on Maldives security

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday paid his tribute to the victims of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings, saying "cowardly acts of terror can not defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka".

President Maithripala Sirisena invited him to Sri Lanka. "Cowardly acts of terror can not defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka", Modi later tweeted.

Modi's choice of the Maldives and Sri Lanka for his first overseas trip after re-election "underlines the continued emphasis that the government lays on the "neighborhood-first" policy", according t Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.

Modi is the first foreign leader to visit Sri Lanka after the devastating suicide bombings of Easter Sunday in April that killed over 250 people.

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"My heart goes out to the families of the victims and the injured", Modi added.

Under the Modi government, India handed over the first lot of houses built under a Dollars 350 million project for people, mostly Tamils who live in Sri Lanka's tea plantation areas. "India is with Sri Lanka on the fight against terrorism", External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

On his meeting with President Sirisena, Mr. Modi said it was their second meeting in 10 days.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday tried to allay any Maldivian fears about a "big brother" attitude from New Delhi, insisting the Indian growth story sought to serve as a tide that lifts its neighbours.

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China and India have strategic interests in the Indian Ocean, and Sri Lanka, a key location for global shipping lines, is crucial for implementing them.

Modi was greeted at the Velana International Airport by Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid followed by a ceremonial welcome with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at the capital's Republic Square.

He had earlier visited the temple in his capacity as the PM candidate in May 2014 and as the Prime Minister in October 2015 and January 2017. "We achieved a lot in last five years...much more has to be done in the coming years", he said to thundering applause, and urged Sri Lanka-based Indians to help strengthen bilateral ties. Two good occasions beckoned the country in the near future, Modi pointed out, referring to the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in October 2019 and the 75th anniversary of the nation's Independence in 2022.

After receiving the honour, PM Modi said, "Today, I have been conferred with Maldives' highest honour, I humbly accept this it".

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