Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India attaches “paramount importance” to strengthening relations with countries in the Indian Ocean region, which is vital for its security and progress.
Modi said this in a pre-departure statement before leaving for Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka on a five-day three-nation foreign tour.
He expressed confidence that his visits to all the three countries will reinvigorate India’s relations with them in this all-important region “we call home–-the Indian Ocean”.
“My visit to the three Indian Ocean Island countries reflects our foreign policy priorities in India’s immediate and extended neighbourhood. India attaches paramount importance to strengthening relations with this region, which is vital for India’s security and progress,” he said in the statement.
Modi said he was keenly looking forward to the three-nation visit, observing that India had strong, multifaceted and important relationship with each of these countries and that they all occupied a very important place in its foreign policy.
Modi noted that his visit to Seychelles will be the first Prime Ministerial visit since 1981.
“India’s relationship with Seychelles has been built on the foundation of mutual trust and shared values…I am keenly looking forward to my meeting with President James Michel, a great friend of India,” he said.
After Seychelles, the Prime Minister would visit Mauritius on March 11-12.
The Prime Minister said he was honoured to have been invited to be the Chief Guest at the Independence Day celebrations in Mauritius on March 12, a date which is special to all Indians because Mahatma Gandhi began his Dandi March on the same date in 1930.
“My visit to Mauritius will aim to strengthen our age-old civilizational ties with ‘Chhota Bharat’. I am honoured to be invited to address the National Assembly of Mauritius,” he said.
“I will be participating in the joint commissioning of Indian-built Offshore Patrol Vessel Barracuda, and in the beginning of construction works for the building of World Hindi Secretariat,” he said.
The Prime Minister said he looked forward to discussing with Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth ways to further deepen bilateral strategic partnership.
“I also look forward to meeting the entire political leadership of Mauritius, which has provided unstinting support for this relationship,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said his visit to Sri Lanka was an opportunity to further strengthen bilateral relationship in all its dimensions.
“This will be our second Summit in a month’s time since the visit of President Maithripala Sirisena to India last month,” he said.
Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka will be the first standalone Prime Ministerial visit to the island nation since 1987.
“I see this visit as an opportunity to further strengthen our relationship in all its dimensions – political, strategic, economic, cultural, and above all, people to people contacts,” he said.
The visit to Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister said, was also part of his objective of maintaining frequent contact with neighbouring countries.
“I am delighted with the opportunity to visit one of our most important neighbours. I look forward to discussing our bilateral relations with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. I am also looking forward to meeting other political leaders of Sri Lanka. We will work together to forge a new partnership between our countries,” he said.