Sri Lanka, India renew ties with foreign minister visit

EconomyNext – Sri Lanka’s new Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has concluded a two-day visit to India that sought to repair strains in ties between the two neighbours under the former regime and seek enhanced economic co-operation.

A ministry statement said Samaraweera had called on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Monday and extended an invitation from Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to visit the island at an early date, which Modi accepted.

This would be the first official visit by an Indian Prime Minister after the official visit by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1987.

"The Minister said that Sri Lanka is looking forward to the enhancement of economic cooperation with India, which is heading towards great economic progress under Prime Minister Modi," the statement said.

Samaraweera who was in New Delhi on the invitation of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, his first foreign visit after assumption of office on 12th January.

The visit "reflects the priority attached by Sri Lanka towards enhanced relations with India," the statement said.

Relations between India and Sri Lanka were strained under the regime of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa who was ousted in the January 8 presidential poll.

The statement said the two Foreign Ministers discussed all aspects of bilateral relations, with the Ministers agreeing to commence a consultative process to re-engage on the issue of repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu.

The two Ministers discussed the proposed visit to India by President Sirisena.

Samaraweera also invited Swaraj to visit Sri Lanka as early as possible, which she accepted.

The two sides agreed to hold the 9th Meeting of the India – Sri Lanka Joint Commission in Colombo during this visit.

Samaraweera also met the National Security Advisor of India, Ajit Doval and paid courtesy calls on the Leader of the Indian National Congress, Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.