A handout photo made available by the G7 Hiroshima Summit Host shows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) at the Grand Prince Hotel Hiroshima during the G7 Hiroshima Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, 20 May 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/G7 Hiroshima Summit Host / HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Modi seeks allies in the Pacific during Papua visit

New Delhi, May 22 (EFE).- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday met leaders of the island nations in the Pacific, presenting India as a reliable ally which can help in their development, during a visit to Papua New Guinea.

“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,” Modi said in his speech at the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) in Port Moresby on Monday.

The Indian PM, who landed in Papua New Guinea on Sunday night after attending the G7 leaders’ summit in Japan, held talks with around a dozen leaders including Papuan Prime Minister James Marape and his New Zealand counterpart Chris Hipkins.

Marape, who conferred Modi with his country’s highest civilian honor, discussed “trade & investment, health, capacity building & skill development and Information Technology” along with “issues related climate action” with the Indian leader, according to the Indian press release.

In his meeting with Hipkins, the Indian PM focused on boosting trade ties, according to a separate statement.

Modi’s presence at the Pacific Islands Forum, the first by an Indian PM, comes in the backdrop of New Delhi’s ongoing G20 presidency this year, through which India has sought to emerge as the voice of the Global South.

In his opening speech at the FIPIC, Modi said that India had the responsibility to “bring the issues, expectations and aspirations of the Global South to the attention of the world through the G-20 platform.”

India was one of the largest vaccine suppliers to most of the Pacific nations during the Covid pandemic, and it has boosted trade ties with the region in recent years.

After attending the Pacific Islands Forum, also joined by the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Modi headed to Australia for the final stop in his Asia-Oceania tour, during which he is set to meet with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. EFE