Leaders of seven countries start arriving in Delhi

| | New Delhi
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Leaders of seven countries start arriving in Delhi

Sunday, 09 June 2024 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived in New Delhi on Saturday afternoon to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister on the evening of June 9.

India on Friday formally announced that the leaders of seven countries from the neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean region will attend the ceremony.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, his Maldivian counterpart Mohamed Muizzu, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” will attend the ceremony, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).  Modi is expected to hold separate meetings with the visiting leaders, it was learnt.

Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay and Vice-President of Seychelles Ahmed Afif have also accepted India’s invitation to grace the swearing-in ceremony, it said.

Hasina arrived in New Delhi on Saturday afternoon. Afif is scheduled to reach the national Capital on Saturday. The other leaders will arrive on Sunday.

The invitation to Muizzu assumes significance as it comes amid frosty ties between India and the Maldives.  The ties between India and the Maldives ties came under severe strain since November last year when Muizzu, known for his pro-China leanings, took charge as Maldivian president.

Within hours of his oath, Muizzu had demanded the withdrawal of Indian military personnel from his country. The Indian military personnel were replaced by civilians earlier this month.

According to PTI from Male, Muizzu said on Saturday he would be honoured to attend Prime Minister Modi’s swearing-in ceremony and his first visit to India for the historic event would demonstrate that bilateral ties are heading in a “positive direction”.

This will mark the pro-China president’s first official visit to India since assuming office on November 17 last year. Unlike his predecessors, who made the first port of call to New Delhi after assuming office, Muizzu had travelled to Turkiye first and to China for his first State visit in January.

Munu Mahawar, India’s Higher Commissioner to the Maldives, presented the letter of invitation to the President during a courtesy call at the President’s Office.

At the call, the High Commissioner extended greetings from Prime Minister Modi, stating that the Prime Minister is looking forward to having the President attend this momentous ceremony marking his third swearing-in as Prime Minister of India, the statement said.

The President expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister for the invitation, adding that he would be honoured to attend this historic event. He also stated that he looks forward to working with the Prime Minister to further strengthen the close relations with India, noting that the Maldives-India relationship is heading in a positive direction, as would be demonstrated by this visit.

Earlier on Wednesday, Muizzu had congratulated Modi and voiced his desire to work with the Indian prime minister to advance the bilateral ties.           “Congratulations to Prime Minister @narendramodi and the BJP and BJP-led NDA, on the success in the 2024 Indian General Election, for the third consecutive term.

“I look forward to working together to advance our shared interests in pursuit of shared prosperity and stability for our two countries,” Muizzu posted on X.

Meanwhile, the swearing-in ceremony is expected to witness the presence of top leaders from neighbouring countries, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Mauritius, and Seychelles, in addition to the Maldives, as part of India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy.

“The swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Council of Ministers following the General Elections 2024 is scheduled on June 9 2024. On the occasion, leaders from India’s neighbourhood and Indian Ocean region have been cordially invited as distinguished guests,” the MEA said.

In addition to participating in the swearing-in ceremony, the leaders will attend a banquet hosted by President Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan, it said.  The swearing-in ceremony is slated to take place at 7:15 PM on Sunday at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“The visit of the leaders to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Modi for his third consecutive term is in keeping with the highest priority accorded by India to its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and ‘SAGAR’ vision”, MEA also said.

India has been cooperating with the countries of the Indian Ocean region under the broader policy framework of SAGAR or Security and Growth for all in the Region.

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