Modi holds talks with Lankan PM and Leader of Oppn Rajapaksa
PRIME Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said he had an “immensely fruitful” meetings with Sri Lanka’s top leadership, including President Maithripala Sirisena, during which the two sides agreed that terrorism is a “joint threat” that needs collective and focussed action, weeks after the island nation witnessed the worst jihadi attack. Modi, the first foreign leader to visit Sri Lanka after the deadly Easter terror attacks on April 21, was accorded a red carpet welcome. His visit is considered as a sign of India’s affirmation of solidarity with Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the attacks, the worst in the history of the island nation that killed 258 people, including 11 Indians.
“Met President @MaithripalaS, our second meeting in 10 days. President Sirisena and I agreed that terrorism is a joint threat that needs collective and focussed action. Reiterated India’s commitment to partner with Sri Lanka for a shared, secure and prosperous future,” Modi tweeted after his talks with President Sirisena. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that the two leaders discussed bilateral issues of mutual interest. A banquet was hosted in honour of Prime Minister Modi by President Sirisena. Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Colombo comes at a time when China is increasing its forays in South Asia, including in Sri Lanka by investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects, raising concerns in New Delhi.
Modi also held “fruitful discussions” with his Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe. “Assured India’s full support to further strengthen bilateral development partnership including through people oriented projects in Sri Lanka,” Modi said after his meeting with Wickremesinghe. Modi also held extensive meeting with the Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa and discussed the need for close collaboration between the two countries in the fields of counter terrorism, security and economic development. “Had an extensive meeting with the Leader of Opposition, Mahinda Rajapaksa.
We discussed the need for close collaboration between India and Sri Lanka in the fields of counter terrorism, security and economic development,” Modi tweeted. Rajapaksa, the former Sri Lankan President, led his country to a decisive victory against the Tamil Tigers in 2009. The LTTE collapsed in 2009 after the Lankan army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. The war is thought to have killed between 70,000 and 80,000 people. A Tamil National Alliance delegation led by R Sampanthan also called on the Prime Minister and congratulated him on his electoral victory. Modi termed his visit to Colombo “immensely fruitful”. “Sri Lanka has a special place in our hearts. I assure my sisters and brothers of Sri Lanka that India will always be there with you and support your nation’s progress.
Thank you for the memorable welcome and hospitality,” he said before leaving the island nation. Earlier, the Prime Minister’s entourage made a detour to St Anthony’s church - one of the sites of the horrific Easter Sunday attacks - on their way from airport to the Presidential Secretariat. He paid tributes to the victims of the deadly terror strikes at the church and said the “cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka”..
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