India to gift cricket stadium, radar system to Maldives duringPM Modi’s visit

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the Ministry of External Affairs is working with the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI to train Maldivian cricketers after President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had requested for India’s assistance in developing the sport in his country.

The Prime Minister will tour the island nation on Saturday.

“One of the focus in our ties with the Maldives is on people-to-people relationship and in looking at ways to strengthen it…

Among the requests, which are under examination, is a cricket stadium in the Maldives. We expect to build it under the line of credit that we plan to give,” Gokhale told rreporters here.

“These are the first foreign visits that the Prime Minister is undertaking after the general elections and the choice of two neighbouring countries the Maldives and Sri Lanka underlines the continuous emphasis the government lays on the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” he said.

Modi’s would be a ‘state visit’ to the Maldives,Gokhale said adding – “this is usually reserved only for the head of a state”.

Therefore, he said it is a ‘mark of respect’ for India and the Prime Minister.

“This will be first visit of the Prime Minister to the Maldives since 2011,” he said adding the last visit was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that was for SAARC Summit followed by bilateral meeting.

Before that the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had been there in 2002.

Modi’s visit continues “regular top level exchanges” between two sides, Foreign Secretary said.

Modi and the Maldives President Solih will be inaugurating a coastal surveillance radar system and a Comprehensive Training Centre (CTC for Maldives national forces as part of a joint defence cooperation pact on June 8.

“The coastal surveillance radar system and the CTC are part of the Action Plan for defence cooperation,” he said. Gokhale said both sides are also keen to give a boost to people-to-people relationship

Modi will briefly visit Sri Lanka on Sunday during which he will hold discussions with President Maithripala Sirisena, according to the president’s office here.