Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived in Maldives. He will be addressing Maldivian parliament today. This is PM Narendra Modi's first foreign tour after taking charge as Prime Minister for the second time. This underlines Maldives' importance in India's foreign policy.
"I am confident that my visit to the Maldives and Sri Lanka will further strengthen our close and cordial ties with our maritime neighbours, in line with our 'Neighbourhood-First Policy' and the vision of security and growth for all in the region," the prime minister had said on Friday.
The Maldives, though a small country in Indian Ocean is geo-politically significant as it is close to major trade routes. India and China have been vying for influence in the Maldives since long. Most of China's oil trade takes place along sea lanes passing close to Maldives and this is a strategic advantage to India as in case of a conflict with China, India can choke its oil supply as Indian Navy has a strong presence in the Arabian Sea and northern Indian Ocean.
China knows this, and hence it is courting Maldives to offset Indian influence in the country. India has the advantage of geographical proximity with the Maldives but China has deeper pocket and political will.
PM Narendra Modi's visit hence assumes importance. The fact that he chose Maldives for his first foreign visit also has a symbolic importance and sends a positive message politically.
Watch | Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives Maldives for his foreign visit