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Visit of External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar to Sri Lanka

New Delhi, June 21: External Affairs Minister (EAM), Dr. S. Jaishankar paid an official visit to Sri Lanka on 20 June 2024. It is the first bilateral visit undertaken by EAM after his re-appointment. It follows immediately after the visit of President Ranil Wickremesinghe to India on 09-10 June to attend the swearing in ceremony of the new government following the General Elections in India. In the recent past, EAM visited Sri Lanka four times in January 2021, March 2022, January 2023 and October 2023.

During the visit, EAM called on President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and held meetings with his counterpart, Foreign Minister M.U.M Ali Sabry. At President’s House, EAM was received by President Wickremesinghe in a one-on-one meeting, followed by delegation level talks which included Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva; Minister of Agriculture and Plantation Industries Mahinda Amaraweera; Minister of Foreign Affairs M.U.M. Ali Sabry and Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera.

In a testament to the comprehensive and people-centric nature of India-Sri Lanka development cooperation, President Wickremesinghe and EAM jointly handed over 48 houses under Model Village Housing Project in Colombo and Trincomalee districts; 106 houses under Phase III of the Indian Housing Project in Kandy, Matale and Nuwara Eliya Districts. Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), a nerve centre for Search and Rescue operations at sea established with an Indian grant of USD 6 million was also jointly commissioned in the virtual ceremony. For details, please see the factsheet on these grant projects.

Interaction of EAM with the leadership of the Government of Sri Lanka provided an opportunity to review and accelerate progress in the multifaceted India-Sri Lanka partnership. One of the key focus areas of discussion was the Vision Document adopted by President Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during the former’s visit to India in July 2023. Discussions added momentum to the ongoing projects as well as initiatives for promoting connectivity in all its dimensions, particularly in domains of energy, physical infrastructure as well as economic and people-to-people ties.

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar had separate meetings with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa, and leaders of the various political parties from the North, East and the upcountry region. Across party lines, a stronger India-Sri Lanka partnership was seen as beneficial for continued growth and prosperity of the peoples of both countries.

The visit of the External Affairs Minister underscores the central place Sri Lanka occupies in India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy and SAGAR Vision. Following Sri Lanka’s economic recovery and stabilization, forging deeper long-term economic cooperation was underlined as a priority for sustainable and equitable growth of Sri Lanka, and mutual prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region.

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