Port Moresby: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday received a warm welcome as he arrived in Papua New Guinea on his maiden visit during which he will host a key summit on Monday between India and 14 Pacific island countries to boost bilateral ties.
The Prime Minister arrived here from Japan where he attended the summit of the G7 advanced economies and held bilateral meetings with several world leaders.
Modi’s visit to Papua New Guinea on the second leg of his three-nation tour is the first ever by any Indian prime minister.
He was received at the airport by Prime Minister James Marape who touched his feet as a mark of respect.
“Reached Papua New Guinea. I am thankful to PM James Marape for coming to the airport and welcoming me. This is a very special gesture which I will always remember. I look forward to boosting India’s ties with this great nation during my visit,” Modi tweeted.
Normally Papua New Guinea doesn’t give a ceremonial welcome to any leader coming after sunset. But a special exception was made for Prime Minister Modi and a ceremonial welcome was accorded to him.
Modi shared some pictures of the ceremonial welcome on his twitter handle, describing it as “a very special welcome.”
The prime minister was also warmly greeted by the Indian community.
“The Indian community in Papua New Guinea came in large numbers and showed remarkable affection. Thankful to them for the memorable welcome,” Modi tweeted.
In a brief statement, the ministry of external affairs said the visit underscores the close friendship of India with the Pacific Island countries.
“A grand beginning of an important visit! PM @narendramodi arrives in Port Moresby on what is the first-ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Papua New Guinea. Accorded a 19-gun salute, guard of honour & ceremonial welcome. As a special gesture, PM James Marape received PM Modi at the airport,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.
On Monday, Modi and Marape will host the third summit of the Forum for India Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC). The summit will take place at a time when China is making efforts to enhance its military and diplomatic influence in the region.
“I am grateful that all 14 Pacific Island Countries (PIC) have accepted the invitation to attend this important summit (FIPIC),” Modi had said earlier.
FIPIC was launched during his visit to Fiji in 2014.
The FIPIC Summit will see participation from leaders of 14 countries. Normally all of them rarely converge together due to connectivity and other issues, sources said. PIC includes Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Modi will also hold bilateral talks with Marape and meet Bob Dadae, the Governor General of Papua New Guinea. He will also meet New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.