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Indian External Affairs Minister, Dr. Jaishankar’s Visit to Sri Lanka

India’s External Affairs Minister (EAM), Dr. S. Jaishankar, officially visited Sri Lanka on 20 June 2024. It was his first bilateral visit to the island nation after his re-appointment as the EAM. Dr. Jaishankar’s visit immediately follows the India visit of Sri Lankan President H.E. Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe to attend the swearing ceremony of the new Union government from 9-10 June. Previously, Dr. Jaishankar had visited Sri Lanka multiple times- January 2021, March 2022, January 2023 and October 2023. During his recent visit, he met with the Sri Lankan President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, leaders from the Indian Origin Tamil (IOT) community, and other government officials.

Meeting with President

Dr. Jaishankar called on President H.E. Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe at the latter’s house and engaged in a one-on-one meeting. They discussed the various bilateral initiatives and projects both countries undertook. Dr. Jaishankar also “discussed the way forward for the cooperation, especially in power, energy, connectivity, port infrastructure, aviation, digital, health, food security, education and tourism sectors.” He also called on Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Dinesh Gunawardena and “Reiterated India’s strong support through development and connectivity initiatives.” Dr. Jaishankar reiterated India’s commitment towards providing development assistance and continuing the capacity-building programs that would help Sri Lankans realise their aspirations.

Delegation-level talks followed his meeting with the President and the Prime Minister. Dr. Jaishankar met with the Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation, H.E. Mr. Nimal Siripala de Silva; Minister of Power and Energy, H.E. Mr. Kanchana Wijesekera, and the Minister of Agriculture and Plantation Industries, H.E. Mr. Mahinda Amaraweera.

Meeting with Foreign Minister

Dr. Jaishankar met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. M.U.M. Ali Sabry, and discussed a range of issues concerning the areas of economic cooperation, development cooperation, regional and multilateral cooperation, and cooperation between the India-Sri Lanka Foreign Ministries. The dignitaries also exchanged perspectives of greater multilateral cooperation, especially in BIMSTEC, IORA and the UN. Foreign Secretary Mr. Aruni Wijewardane and other ministers also participated in the bilateral talks.

Successful Projects

President Wickremesinghe and Dr. Jaishankar jointly handed over 106 houses under Phase III of the Indian Housing Project in Kandy, Matale and Nuwara Eliya Districts and 48 homes under the Model Village Housing Project, 24 each in Colombo and Trincomalee districts. Both ministers also jointly commissioned the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in a virtual ceremony. The MRCC is a nerve centre for Search and Rescue operations at sea that was established with an Indian fund of USD 6 million. Such successful commissions are testaments to the comprehensive and people-centric approach of India-Sri Lanka development cooperation. The ‘Vision Document’ adopted by President Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in July 2023 was a focal point of the ongoing discussions. A successful implementation would significantly improve connectivity between the two nations regarding physical infrastructure, energy, economics, and people-to-people ties.

Meeting with Other Dignitaries

Dr. Jaishankar held meetings with several other dignitaries. He met Leader of the Opposition H.E. Mr. Sajith Premadasa, former President H.E. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, and Tamil leaders of the political parties from the East, North, and the upcountry region. He also met with a delegation of IOTs and discussed issues concerning development cooperation with particular attention to the community.

Dr. Jaishankar’s visit to Sri Lanka underlines India’s priority towards its ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy and SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) Vision. Strengthening economic ties with Sri Lanka would contribute towards peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region.