India is committed to the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May 2014, he reiterated this on many occasions. He had invited the Heads of State/ Government of all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) states for his swearing in on 26th May 2014. He visited Bhutan on his maiden foreign visit in the same year. Mr. Modi had called for joint efforts by the South Asian neighbours in tackling issues like poverty, malnutrition and education for all. India is ready to share her expertise with her neighbours for their well-being.
On the occasion of the New Year, 2020 Prime Minister Narendra Modi carried the spirit forward by having telephonic conversations with the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Dr. Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister of Bhutan, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President and Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mr. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, President of the Maldives, Ms. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Mr. K.P. Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal.
The Indian Prime Minister conveyed to the neighbourhood leaders, his New Year greetings and good wishes on behalf of the people of India and on his own behalf. He once again emphasized India’s commitment to the country’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and the vision of shared peace, security, prosperity and progress for all of India’s friends and partners in the region.
In his conversation with the King of Bhutan, the Prime Minister highlighted important achievements of the last year which have led to further consolidation of special ties between India and Bhutan. Mr. Modi fondly recalled his last visit to Bhutan and the love and affection he received from the people there. He also emphasized the need to enhance youth exchanges between the two countries. Prime Minister also mentioned that he was looking forward to forthcoming visit of the King to India.
President of Sri Lanka Mr.Gotabaya Rajapaksa warmly reciprocated the wishes of Prime Minister Modi and expressed confidence that India and Sri Lanka would further enhance their friendly ties in the year 2020. The two leaders reiterated their commitment to closely work together towards this end.
Speaking to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, Indian Prime Minister reiterated India’s commitment to further expand the close and extensive cooperation with Sri Lanka. Prime Minister Rajapaksa reciprocated the wishes warmly and expressed keen desire to further enhance relations between the two countries.
Prime Minister Modi wished the President of the Maldives and the people of the Maldives success in all their endeavours for development. President Solih warmly reciprocated Mr. Modi’s wishes and expressed his keen desire to further deepen and strengthen the ties with India by enhancing the existing bilateral cooperation and exploring newer areas for working together.
Speaking with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Indian Prime Minister congratulated her on being re-elected as the President of the Awami League for the next three years. He also expressed his condolence on the untimely demise of former High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India Syed Muazzem Ali. Mr. Modi noted the progress achieved in India-Bangladesh relations in 2019. He also stated that the upcoming birth-centenary of Bangbandhu and 50 years of the Liberation of Bangladesh and establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties provided important milestones to further progress of the close India-Bangladesh ties, which is a priority of his Government.
In his conversation with his Nepalese counterpart, Prime Minister Oli, the Indian Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction at the progress of India-Nepal relations in 2019, with the completion of several projects. He specifically noted the completion of Motihari (India) – Amlekhgunj (Nepal) petroleum products pipeline in a record time. Both the leaders also agreed for an early inauguration of the Integrated Check Post in Biratnagar and the housing reconstruction project in Nepal through video conference.
Script: Padam Singh, AIR: News Analyst