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New Indian Envoy to Sri Lanka Calls on PM Gunawardena to Discuss Multidimensional Bilateral Ties

India’s newly appointed High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Santosh Jha, met with Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on December 29, 2023, to engage in comprehensive discussions on the multifaceted bilateral relationship between the two nations. Mr. Jha, who recently assumed his role as the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, delved into various aspects of collaboration with a focus on enhancing Indian investments in the island nation. The official Twitter handle of the Indian mission posted, “The High Commissioner called on H.E. PM @DCRGunawardena today. They discussed a wide range of topics pertaining to the multidimensional India-Sri Lanka relationship.”

Central to their discussions was the recognition of the centuries-old linkages in Buddhism, highlighting the enduring connection between the people of India and Sri Lanka. A statement issued by the Sri Lankan government following the meeting outlined the key areas of conversation, indicating a shared commitment to exploring opportunities for increased Indian investments. Among the topics discussed were collaborative projects in the energy sector, joint initiatives involving Trincomalee oil storage tanks, ports, railways, and other sectors crucial to both nations. The statement noted, “They held a detailed discussion on economic ties and cooperation between the two countries and examined ways and means of expediting the proposed joint projects.”

Expressing gratitude, Prime Minister Gunawardena acknowledged India’s support during the current economic crisis. He thanked India for extending debt restructuring facilities, providing relief materials, food, and medicine, and for its crucial support in securing the IMF package to address liquidity issues. Santosh Jha, a seasoned Indian diplomat who previously served as India’s Ambassador to the European Union, Belgium, and Luxembourg and as Counsellor at the High Commission in Colombo from 2007–2010, played a pivotal role in shaping the development cooperation between India and Sri Lanka. Reflecting on his previous tenure in Sri Lanka, Mr. Jha stated, “I consider it a great privilege to be in Colombo once again to work for further strengthening bilateral friendship and cooperation.” He emphasized that his mission is to collaborate with the people of Sri Lanka under the guidance of the Sri Lankan leadership. Addressing specific areas of collaboration, Mr. Jha assured that Indian expertise would be extended to Sri Lanka for its digital infrastructure development plans, including the introduction of digital IDs for every citizen and the advancement of IT education.

In conclusion, Mr. Jha reiterated his commitment to working closely with Sri Lanka for its benefit, showcasing the shared vision for a strengthened and prosperous partnership between the two neighbouring nations.