Tackling terror tops Modi-Gotabaya talks

Wednesday 04th December 2019 05:14 EST

India announced two separate lines of credit worth $450 million for Sri Lanka - $400 million for development assistance and another $50 million for counter-terror cooperation - as Prime Minister Narendra Modi underscored the significance India attaches to its immediate maritime neighbour in a meeting with newly-installed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The talks focused on issues like fulfilling aspirations of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka, ways to boost security and trade ties and address concerns of the fishermen.

Emphasising relations on the basis of equality and non-interference, Gotabaya said that “Sri Lanka would not be a party to any activity that will be a security concern to India”. In remarks at the state banquet, the Sri Lankan president stated in as many words that he regarded India as “very high in our priority list”. Reflecting the focus of the bilateral conversation between him and Modi earlier in the day, Gotabaya asserted that he “would not encourage anything that would jeopardise the security of the Indian Ocean”. What he posted in terms of Sri Lanka’s ambitions to become a global shipping hub, the Indian side saw an assurance that Colombo will be sensitive to India’s security concerns. Gotabaya said the talks were 'fruitful' and that a major focus area of the deliberations was on security cooperation. 'My talks with Prime Minister Modi also focused on economic cooperation,' he said.

India’s $50 million line of credit for combating terrorism was a highlight of Gotabaya’s engagement with Modi with the two, as Modi said, discussing mutual security in detail and looking to further strengthen cooperation against terrorism. Gotabaya said security received priority in the discussions, adding that Sri Lanka was rethinking its national security strategy after the Easter bombings in April and any assistance from India would be most appreciated. Gotabaya is learnt to have expressed interest in training and sharing of intelligence. “India has always opposed terrorism in all its forms and also expected action from the international community against other forms of terrorism, including cross-border terrorism,” Modi said in a media statement after the talks, while recalling the Easter attacks.

“On the occasion of Easter this year, terrorists in Sri Lanka launched brutal attacks on the diversity of mankind and the valuable heritage of symbiosis. I went to Sri Lanka immediately after the elections in India to express India’s unwavering support in the Sri Lankan fight against terrorist and extremist forces,” he added.

Gotabaya arrived in India on November 28, on a three-day visit, in his first overseas tour after taking over the reins of Sri Lanka 10 days back in reflection of importance he attaches to ties with India. On the lingering Tamil issue, Modi said he was confident that the Sri Lankan government will carry forward the reconciliation process and fulfil the aspirations of the Tamil community. Modi said a stable Sri Lanka is not only in interest of India but for entire Indian Ocean

Gotabaya , a former defence secretary who is credited with ending the country's long civil war, was sworn in as the island nation's new president on November 18, a day after he won the closely fought presidential election in island nation.

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