Indian Foreign Secretary calls on PM Rajapaksa

Foreign Secretary of India Harsh Vardhan Shringla called on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees this morning (04).

At the outset, Secretary Shringla conveyed the “very personal greetings” of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the best wishes of External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar, the PM’s Office said.

During the meeting, the two delegations discussed a number of sectors of mutual cooperation, including the further strengthening of bilateral relations, ongoing projects, tourism and the promotion of Buddhist ties.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa appreciated Prime Minister Modi’s initiative to promote Buddhist ties. Secretary Shringla said it was a priority area of Prime Minister Modi.

Last year, during the virtual bilateral summit between the two prime ministers, the Indian Prime Minister announced a $15 million grant for the promotion of Buddhist ties that aimed to deepen people-to-people linkages between the two countries.

Secretary Shringla said India is also looking forward to receiving the first pilgrims flight, from Sri Lanka, to the Kushinagar Airport after it was upgraded as an international airport. This was also a request made by Prime Minister Modi during the virtual summit last year.

Another topic of discussion centered around the resumption of tourism. With the vaccine drives in both countries progressing well, Secretary Shringla spoke of the importance of resuming connectivity, the statement said.

India has been Sri Lanka’s top source of tourists with inbound tourism from India making up about 18% of total tourists arrivals in pre-COVID-19 years.

The Indian Foreign Secretary is currently in Sri Lanka on a four-day official visit.

The Indian Foreign Secretary is also expected to meet with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for talks.

Mr. Shringla arrived in Colombo on Saturday on a four-day official visit, his first official visit to the island nation, following an invitation from his Sri Lankan counterpart Admiral (Retd) Prof Jayanath Colombage.

Foreign Secretary Shringla visited the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy yesterday before traveling to Trincomalee and Jaffna.

He was extended a warm welcome by Indian Consul General in Jaffna and Chairman of the Northern Provincial Council, Mr. C.V.K Sivagnanam. Officials from Civil Aviation Authority briefed the foreign secretary about the development and rehabilitation of Palali Airport.

Foreign Secretary Shringla also visited the iconic Jaffna Cultural Centre built with Indian grant assistance.

He also visited the Oil Tank Farms at Trincomalee and was briefed by LIOC about the development undertaken at the Lower Tank Farms and the possibilities for further strengthening India-Sri Lanka energy partnership to enhance Sri Lanka’s energy security. – ada derana

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