New Delhi: India and Sri Lanka agreed to speed up implementation of development projects in the island nation and deepen their “historic ties” during a meeting between Prime Minister Modi and visiting counterpart Ranil Wickremasinghe. Wickremasinghe, who arrived on a three-day visit, met PM Modi on Saturday, when they held delegation level talks. In a statement after the visit, an MEA statement said, the leaders “discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations ... and exchanged views on regional and global issues. They also reviewed the progress in implementation of various decisions taken during high level exchanges.”
Officials familiar with the meeting said all projects underway were discussed. This would include a recent decision to award a housing project in Jaffna to India after taking it away from a Chinese group. India is also involved in building airports in Palaly and a port in Kankesanthurai as well as one of the container terminals in Colombo and a lease of Mattala airport near the Chinese-controlled Hambantota port.
Modi told Wickremasinghe that the Indian government was successfully diverting Indian fishermen towards deep-sea fishing, away from the harmful trawlers that were the cause of strife on Palk Straits. Officials said he expressed gratitude for the release of fishermen who had been apprehended.
Earlier in the day, home minister Rajnath Singh, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and national security adviser Ajit Doval also separately called on Wickremasinghe. The Lankan PM’s visit should be seen in the backdrop of growing internal political strife within the leadership of the country. His visit also comes after a visit by President M Sirisena earlier this year, and a recent visit by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Wickremesinghe was accompanied by the minister of development strategies and international trade, Malik Samarawickrama, minister of petroleum resources development, Arjuna Ranatunga, and senior officials.