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Mahinda to meet Modi this afternoon

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa being welcomed at the New Delhi Airport on Feb 7, 2020 by India’s State Minister for Huran Resources Sanjay Dhotre/MEA Photo

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to a is in New Delhi and has begun a packed schedule which started with a bilateral meeting with India’s Minister of External Affairs Subhramanyam Jaishankar

“Your visit is a very important opportunity for us to set the course for the next five years,” Minister Jaishankar told the Prime Minister.

Both delegations discussed the status of ongoing projects in Sri Lanka that are being implemented with Indian assistance. The two sides agreed to expedite a number of projects that have not seen much progress in the past few years, a release from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said.

There is a lot of interest in Sri Lanka in areas like tourism, the Minister said. He suggested that a team soon be sent to India to “market Sri Lanka” as a tourist destination.

India is Sri Lanka’s biggest source of tourists attracting 424,887 arrivals from India in 2018. This reduced in 2019 as a result of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.

Minister Jaishankar said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka shortly after the Easter attacks in 2019 intended to “send a message to India and the world that Sri Lanka is safe.” Prime Minister Modi was the first world leader to visit Sri Lanka after the Easter attacks.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa briefed the Minister on the new islandwide housing project that was initiated recently and invited India to consider providing assistance similar to the previous housing projects they have helped fund.

The two delegations also discussed the long-standing concerns of the fishing communities of both countries. Agreeing that this is a problem that benefits neither side, both countries agreed to work more closely together to find a practical solution in a way that benefits all affected fishing communities.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa holding talks with India’s Minister for External Affairs Subhramanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi Feb 8, 2020/MEA Photo

Rajapaksa will meet India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the afternoon and the Indian High Commission in Colombo stated that they will release a joint statement thereafter.

The Sri Lankan Prime Minister will also have a meeting with Indian President Ram Nath Kovind this evening.

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Yesterday when the Sri Lankan Prime Minister arrived in New Delhi he was received at the airport by State Minister for Human Resources Sanjay Dhotre.

Thereafter the Prime Minister will travel to Varanasi, Bodh Gaya and Tirupati before returning home.

Arjuna Ranawana

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