India reliable partner of Pacific Island nations: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives warm welcome by Indian community in Sydney on Monday. (UNI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives warm welcome by Indian community in Sydney on Monday. (UNI)

PM meets NZ counterpart, reaches Sydney


Eyeing to bolster India’s footprint in the Indo-Pacific, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today showcased New Delhi as a “reliable” partner of the Pacific Island nations as he said those considered trustworthy were “not standing by” the region in times of need, in what is being seen as an oblique reference to China.
A friend in need is a friend indeed, Modi told top leaders of 14 Pacific Island nations at a summit, assuring that India is ready to share its capabilities and experiences with the region “without any hesitation” and that “we are with you in every way.”
Referring to adverse impact of Covid-19 pandemic and other global developments, Modi said India stood by the Pacific Island nations in the challenging time and conveyed to them that they can rely on New Delhi as it respects their priorities and its approach for cooperation is based on human values.
“Those whom we considered trustworthy, it turned out that they were not standing by our side in times of need. During these challenging times, an old saying has proven true: ‘A Friend in need is a friend indeed’,” he said at the FIPIC (Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation) summit without naming any country.
“I am glad that India stood with its Pacific island friends during this challenging time. Whether it was vaccines or essential medicines, wheat or sugar; India, in line with its capabilities, has been assisting all partner countries,” he said.
The Prime Minister, who arrived here on Sunday on the second leg of his three-nation tour, also underlined the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific for the Pacific Island nations and said India respects the sovereignty and integrity of all countries.
“India respects your priorities. It feels proud to be your development partner. Whether it’s humanitarian assistance or your development, you can count India as a reliable partner. Our perspective is based on human values,” he said.
Modi’s comments at the FIPIC (Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation) summit in this capital city of Papua New Guinea came amid China’s aggressive behaviour in the region as well as its efforts to expand influence in the Pacific island nations.
Explaining India’s priorities for the island nations, Modi said: “For me, you are not small island states, but large ocean countries. It is this vast ocean that connects India with all of you. Indian philosophy has always viewed the world as one family.”
He also announced a series of new development initiatives by India in the areas of healthcare and cyberspace including establishing a super-specialty cardiology hospital in Fiji, assistance in setting up of dialysis units in all 14 Pacific island countries as well as sea ambulances for the countries.
Modi also announced bringing Jan Aushadhi Centers to the island nations for ensuring medicines at affordable prices besides a project for the development of the small and medium enterprise sector in every Pacific Island country.
To address the water scarcity issue, Modi pledged to provide desalination units for the people of every Pacific Island country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met his New Zealand counterpart Chris Hipkins for the first time and the two leaders discussed the full range of bilateral ties and agreed to expand cooperation in various sectors like trade and commerce, education and sports.
Modi arrived here on Sunday on his maiden visit to Papua New Guinea to host a key summit between India and 14 Pacific island countries to boost bilateral ties.
Modi met Hipkins on the sidelines of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) summit. This was the first interaction between the two Prime Ministers since Hipkins assumed office in January.
“Had an excellent meeting with New Zealand PM @chrishipkins and discussed the full range of India-NZ relations. We talked about how to improve commercial and cultural linkages between our nations,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted.
The two leaders discussed ongoing bilateral cooperation initiatives and agreed to expand cooperation in various sectors including trade & commerce, education, information technology, tourism, culture, sports and people-to-people ties, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
“Giving fresh impetus to India-New Zealand relationship. PM @narendramodi met PM @chrishipkins of New Zealand in Port Moresby,” the Ministry of External Affairs tweeted.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Sydeny today for the third and final leg of his three-nation tour during which he will hold talks with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese and attend a community event to celebrate the country’s dynamic, diverse Indian diaspora.
Modi is visiting Australia from May 22-24 as a guest of the Australian Government.
“Landed in Sydney to a warm welcome by the Indian community. Looking forward to various programmes over the next two days,” Modi tweeted.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, in a tweet, said Prime Minister Modi arrived in the vibrant city of Sydney on his second visit to Australia.
“Two days of constructive engagements with Australian leadership, business community and diaspora members await,” he added.
Ahead of Modi’s arrival, Prime Minister Albanese said in a statement, “I am honoured to host Prime Minister Modi for an official visit to Australia, after receiving an extremely warm welcome in India earlier this year.”
“Australia and India share a commitment to a stable, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific. Together we have an important role to play in supporting this vision,” he said, amidst China’s aggressive behaviour in the region as well as its efforts to expand its influence.
Prime Minister Modi has also said that he was looking forward to his meeting with Albanese on May 24.
During the visit, the Prime Ministers will attend a community event in Sydney to celebrate Australia’s dynamic and diverse Indian diaspora, “a core part of our multicultural community”, the Australian Government said in a statement.(PTI)