Prime Minister Narendra Modi received a special welcome at Papua New Guinea on Sunday when he arrived to host the third summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC). As a gesture of respect, Prime Minister James Marape touched PM Modi’s feet while welcoming him to the Pacific Island nation.
While Papua New Guinea doesn’t usually give a ceremonial welcome for any leader visiting the country after sunset, an exception was made for Prime Minister Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Pacific Island nation, who arrived after 10 pm local time.
“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,” PM Modi tweeted.
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. pic.twitter.com/9pBzWQ6ANT
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 21, 2023
After the two embraced each other, PM Marape reached for PM Modi’s feet. The two shared another hug before walking towards the other dignitaries who had come to welcome Prime Minister Modi.
Sasindran Muthuvel, Governor of the West New Britain Province of Papua New Guinea who was part of the team that received Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said that PM James Marape touched PM Modi’s feet out of deep respect for him.
PM Modi was accorded a 19-gun salute, guard of honour and ceremonial welcome apart from the PM James Marape’s special gesture of receiving him at the airport, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
India and the Pacific Island nation share strong ties. In 2021, Papua New Guinea received secured its first major shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from India. The shipment came at a time when the nation was facing a heath crisis with delays to its vaccination programme that relied on supplies from the global COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme.
PM Modi arrived here from Japan where he attended the summit of the G7 advanced economies and held bilateral meetings with several world leaders.
Narendra Modi and James Marape will host the third summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) on Monday. He is also scheduled to hold bilateral talks with James Marape and meet Bob Dadae, the Governor General of Papua New Guinea.
Monday’s talks are set to focus largely on climate change and development. The last such summit was hosted by India eight years ago.
“I am grateful that all 14 Pacific Island Countries (PIC) have accepted the invitation to attend this important summit (FIPIC),” Mr Modi had said earlier. The FIPIC Summit will see participation from leaders of 14 countries and was launched during PM Modi’s visit to Fiji in 2014.
The Pacific Islands Cooperation includes Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.