Male: In a veiled attack on Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that state sponsorship of terrorism is the biggest threat faced by humanity as he called upon world leaders to unite to combat the menace.
"Terrorism is not just a threat for a country, but to the entire civilisation. It is very unfortunate that people are still making the mistake of distinguishing between good terrorists and bad terrorists. State sponsorship of terrorism is the biggest threat the world is facing today," he said in an indirect reference to Pakistan.
Modi made the comments in his address to the Maldivian Parliament (the Majlis) in Male as he landed in the island nation on his first foreign visit after being re-elected as Prime Minister.
India in the past has blamed Pakistan for carrying out terrorist attacks in the country and asked it to stop supporting terror outfits operating from its soil.
"The water is now rising above the head," Modi said. "Combating terrorism and radicalisation is the most accurate test of the leadership in the world."
In the Majlis, Modi stressed upon strengthening bilateral ties, reflecting the importance India attaches to its 'Neighbourhood First' policy.
Modi said that relations between the two countries are older than history. "Today I want to emphasise that every Indian was with you for the strengthening of democracy in the Maldives," he said. The two-day state visit is aimed at further cementing ties with the Indian Ocean archipelago.
Modi was also conferred the 'Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen', which is the Maldives' highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries.
Several Agreements Inked
Earlier in the day, Modi and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih held extensive talks as the two countries signed six agreements to strengthen bilateral ties in a number of key areas, including defence and maritime.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the two leaders held warm discussions.
Mutually beneficial partnershipWarm discussions marked the meeting between PM @narendramodi & President of Maldives @ibusolih. Focus on further deepening our special relationship by expanding cooperation across sectors. pic.twitter.com/teJz2SZxMO— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) June 8, 2019
The first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was for cooperation in the fields of hydrography, while another was on health. The other agreements included the establishment of passenger and cargo services by sea, cooperation in customs capacity-building between the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs of India and the Maldives Customs Service.
Another pact was signed between the National Centre for Good Governance, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances and the Maldives Civil Service Commission on training and capacity building programme for Maldivian civil servants.
A technical agreement on sharing white shipping information between the Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defence Force was also signed. A coastal surveillance radar system and a composite training centre for the Maldives defence forces were jointly inaugurated by the two leaders.
After the talks, Modi said the focus of the various projects to be undertaken by India in the Maldives would be to touch people's lives. He said that India has agreed on the construction of a Friday Mosque in the southern part of the island where an urban development centre is being built.
The two countries have also agreed to start a ferry service between Kochi and the Maldives, Modi said. The launch of an RuPay Card in the Maldives will give a boost to tourism in the island nation, he added.
"There have been discussions over making the defence services stronger in Maldives. India wants a strong relationship with the Maldives and believes that a strong and prosperous Maldives will be in the interest of the region," Modi said, adding that maritime and defence ties are a top priority and the radar system will boost maritime security.
India is committed to help the Maldives in every way possible, he added.
Modi, who gifted a cricket bat to Solih signed by the Indian cricket team, said India will help promote and develop cricket in the country to consolidate people-to-people relations.
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. pic.twitter.com/G0pggAZ60e— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 8, 2019
India is helping to train Maldivian cricket players and bring them up to the requisite standard, the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi had said on Thursday. India is also looking into constructing a stadium in the island nation which is another request made by it, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said.
In a joint statement, Modi and Solih reiterated their strong commitment to further strengthening and invigorating the traditionally strong and friendly relations between the countries and reiterated their commitment to democracy, development and peaceful co-existence.
President Solih reaffirmed his government's 'India-First Policy' and pledged his government's full support towards deepening a mutually beneficial partnership.
While both leaders reviewed the progress made on the commitments announced during the state visit, Solih also thanked the Government of India for the financial support extended to the island nation in the form of budgetary support, currency swap, and lines of credit.
It is a happy day for all Maldivians. A great and dear friend of ours PM @NarendraModi is visiting these shores. It is my great honour to welcome the PM to the Maldives, his first visit overseas since assuming office for a second term. pic.twitter.com/zaWYNbhlxe— Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (@ibusolih) June 8, 2019
(With inputs from PTI)