June 8, 2019 / 5:55 PM / 3 months ago

India's Modi calls for global conference on terrorism

MALE, Maldives (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a global conference to tackle the threat of terrorism in the region and around the world.

FILE PHOTO: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the media after his meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind, to stake claim to form the new government at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi, India May 25, 2019. REUTERS/File Photo

During a speech on his first foreign visit since winning re-election, he told the Maldivian parliament in Male that “terrorism is not just a threat for a country, but to the entire civilisation”.

“The international community has actively arranged for global convention and many conferences on the threat of climate change. Why not on the issue of terrorism?” Modi said.

He called for a global conference “so that there can be meaningful and result-oriented discussions for plugging the loopholes that terrorists and their supporters exploit”.

India is pursuing what it calls a “neighbourhood first” foreign policy centred on its allies in South Asia, although there is little sign of a warming in relations with arch rival Pakistan.

His trip to the Maldives is being viewed as a statement of intent to counter the rise of China, which has been making strategic inroads in the Indian Ocean in recent years and seeking closer military ties, to the alarm of New Delhi.

“In the neighbourhood, Maldives is priority,” Modi said in his speech.

During the visit, Modi has signed a slew of agreements with the island nation encompassing ferry services, port terminals and a new national cricket stadium.

His next stop is Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, where security is likely to be high on the agenda.

A wave of bombings on Easter Sunday killed more than 250 people across Sri Lanka despite repeated warnings from Indian intelligence services about a militant plot.

Writing by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Mike Harrison and Kevin Liffey

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