Modi woos Sri Lanka, Maldives as India fends off Chinese influence

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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".

Prime Minister Modi and President Solih held warm discussions, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

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.

"Share the warmth shown by the people of Sri Lanka in equal measure. It is time for a global conference on terrorism", he said. "He added that the visit also reflects the strength and trust exists between the two neighbors", President's Media Division said.

Sri Lanka, unable to repay a huge Chinese loan, handed over another deep-sea port in the south of the island to a Beijing company in December 2017 in a deal that raised concerns at home and overseas. "This is the key to our shared future in every sense", the Prime Minister said. "India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka", Modi tweeted afterwards, sharing footage from the scene.

Modi also held an extensive meeting with the Leader of Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa and discussed the need for close collaboration between the two countries in the fields of counter-terrorism, security and economic development.

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The Prime Minister said, "By issuing RuPay Card in Maldives, there will be an increase in the number of Indian tourists in Maldives". The Prime Minister said he has confidence in 130 crore Indians.

The two-day visit is also Modi's first foreign visit since taking the oath of office for his second term after an emphatic election win in May.

The President also presented Premier Modi with a Samadhi Buddha Statue as a "special gift from a special friend".

Tirupati: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy on Sunday tried to pay his respect to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by bending forward before him as if to touch his feet - a gesture of respect given to the elders. Apart from the Sri Lankan PM, he was accompanied by Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Modi arrived in the Indian Ocean archipelago on Saturday on his first foreign visit after re-election as Prime Minister to strengthen the bilateral ties, reflecting the importance India attaches to its "Neighbourhood First" policy.

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