Prime Minister Narendra Modi exchanged New Year greetings on phone with the leaders of neighbouring countries and highlighted India’s commitment to its “Neighbourhood First” policy, the government said in a statement. In his conversation with the leaders of Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh and Nepal, PM Modi focused on the “vision of shared peace, security, prosperity and progress for all of India’s friends and partners in the region”, the government said.
The list of leaders who exchanged New Year wishes, however, did not include PM Modi’s Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, who heads a country that shelters terror groups.
The ties between India and Pakistan has nosedived in the last one year after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed killed 40 paramilitary soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama in February. An air strike by India deep inside Pakistan’s Balakot followed.
In his conversation with Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan, and Lyonchhen Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister of Bhutan, PM Modi recalled his last visit to the Himalayan nation and the “love and affection” he received from the people there, the government said.
PM Modi and Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed to further enhance ties this year. In his conversation with Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, PM Modi said he will work to improve bilateral cooperation and explore new areas for working together.
PM Modi congratulated his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on her re-election as chief of the Awami League for three years. He also gave his condolences on the death of former High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India Syed Muazzem Ali.
PM Modi and his Nepal counterpart KP Sharma Oli agreed for an early inauguration of the integrated checkpost at Biratnagar and a housing reconstruction project in Nepal through video conference.
This is PM Modi’s first New Year after he won a second term with a massive victory in the national election held in April and May last year.