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Imran Khan and Narendra Modi Image Credit: Reuters / AFP

New Delhi: The leaders of India and Pakistan spoke by phone on Sunday, their offices said, in their first conversation since air strikes in February.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated his counterpart Narendra Modi on his recent election victory, the two countries said in separate statements.

Prime Minister Imran Khan “expressed his desire for both countries to work together for the betterment of their peoples,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said.

“Reiterating his vision for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia, the prime minister said he looked forward to working with Prime Minister Modi to advance these objectives,” it added.

Modi meanwhile “stressed that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism were essential for fostering cooperation for peace, progress and prosperity in our region,” India’s foreign ministry said.

Modi also received telephone calls from former president of the Maldives Mohammad Nasheed and former prime minister of Nepal Madhav Nepal on his victory in the recent general election.

“Former president Nasheed congratulated the prime minister on the historic mandate and noted that the relationship between the Maldives and India had deepened in recent times,” the MEA said.

He stressed the importance of close cooperation to fight the forces of extremism and radicalisation in the region, it added.

On his part, Modi thanked Nasheed for his felicitation and reiterated his commitment to continue fostering a strong, mutually beneficial and all-round partnership between the two countries.

The MEA said Madhav Nepal warmly congratulated Modi on leading his party and alliance to a grand, historic and landslide victory.

He also expressed the confidence that India’s emergence as a front-ranking world power would qualitatively uplift the entire region.

Modi 2.0

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to travel to the Maldives early next month, in his first bilateral visit after retaining power in the Lok Sabha polls, according to diplomatic sources and Maldivian media reports.

Bhutan was the first country Modi had visited in 2014 after becoming prime minister.

Diplomatic sources said the prime minister is expected to travel to Male in the first half of June, while the Maldivian media reported that the visit will take place between June 7-8.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited the Maldives in March, the first full-fledged bilateral trip from India to the island nation after the government of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih came to power in November last year.

Modi visited the Maldives in November to attend Solih’s swearing-in ceremony, signalling the importance India attaches to the island nation, where China has been trying to expand its influence.

Modi will visit his parliamentary constituency Varanasi on Monday to thank the people for “reposing faith” in him and offer prayers at the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple.

After reaching Varanasi, Modi will travel by road from the police lines to Bansphatak, with his cavalcade passing through various parts of the city.

He will pay obeisance at the Kashi Vishwanath temple on Monday morning and later address a gathering of workers of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), party sources said.