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Prime Minister Modi’s Historic Visit to Papua New Guinea: Strengthening India’s Presence in the Pacific Region

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Introduction

This is Prime Minister Modi’s first visit to Papua New Guinea, marking a historic moment not only for India but also for the nation of Papua New Guinea. Traditionally, after dusk, heads of state in Papua New Guinea are not extended traditional welcomes. However, in a remarkable departure from tradition, Papua New Guinea has changed its customs to honor Prime Minister Modi. After completing his trip to Japan, Prime Minister Modi arrived in Papua New Guinea on Sunday, where he received a warm and traditional welcome at the Port Moresby (Jackson) International Airport.

Change in Tradition for Prime Minister Modi

Prime Minister Modi’s visit holds a special significance as it represents the first-ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Papua New Guinea. Usually, heads of state are not given traditional welcomes after dusk in Papua New Guinea. However, in a testament to the close relationship between India and Papua New Guinea, the nation has made an exception for Prime Minister Modi. Upon his arrival, Prime Minister Modi was greeted with a traditional welcome, accompanied by full political honors. The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape, himself came to the airport to welcome and honor Prime Minister Modi. The gesture demonstrated the warm and cordial relationship between the two nations. Moreover, Prime Minister Modi was also accorded the Guard of Honor, further emphasizing the significance of his visit. The Indian diaspora in Papua New Guinea joined in the welcoming ceremony, highlighting the strong bond between the people of both countries.

Why is Prime Minister Modi’s Visit Important?

The visit of Prime Minister Modi to Papua New Guinea carries immense importance in the geopolitical context of the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions. China has been steadily strengthening its presence in these regions, prompting India to respond by bolstering its own influence. India aims to challenge China’s expanding presence in its neighborhood and increase its own engagement in the Indian Ocean region. Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Papua New Guinea is a strategic move in this direction. It signifies India’s commitment to forging closer ties with Pacific island nations and collaborating on various fronts, including economic, cultural, and security cooperation.

The FIPIC Summit: An Important Meeting on Monday

The primary focus of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Papua New Guinea is his participation in the third meeting of the Forum for India-Pacific Island Cooperation (FIPIC) summit. This significant event will bring together representatives from 14 countries in the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions. Scheduled to take place on Monday, the summit will serve as a platform for enhancing multilateral cooperation and strengthening regional ties. Prime Minister Modi played a pivotal role in establishing the FIPIC during its inaugural meeting in Fiji back in 2014. The forum serves as a mechanism for dialogue and collaboration, addressing common challenges faced by India and the Pacific island countries, such as climate change, sustainable development, and maritime security.

Prime Minister Modi’s Visit to Australia: Connecting with the Indian Diaspora

Following his visit to Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Modi will proceed to Australia. In Australia, he will have the opportunity to interact with the vibrant community of people of Indian origin in a special event to be held in Sydney. The program will take place in the Harris Park area, affectionately known as “Little India.” This engagement with the Indian diaspora reflects India’s commitment to strengthening its cultural ties and deepening people-to-people connections. It also provides a platform for dialogue and exchange of ideas, contributing to the overall enhancement of bilateral relations between India and Australia.

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