The visit of the Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs helped fill the gaps in India-S …


(MENAFN- NewsIn.Asia) Colombo, October 5 ( India-Sri Lanka relations, which appeared to be bogged down as China’s influence over the island nation appeared to increase, are now on the rise. Plans are underway for concrete and meaningful cooperation in a wide range of areas of mutual interest.

The reactivation that is now taking place owes much to the skillful diplomacy displayed by the visiting Indian Foreign Minister, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, with the able support of the High Commissioners of both countries, namely Gopal Baglay in Colombo and Milinda Moragoda in New Delhi. .

Then there is the useful role of senior Lankan leaders. Publicly acknowledging this, Shringla said Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is a “staunch friend of India and a constant source of support for deepening India-Sri Lanka engagement”. He said that “President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s steadfast commitment to the India-Sri Lanka bilateral relationship is well known.” Namal Rajapaksa, the son of Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is said to be vying for the presidency of Sri Lanka, will soon travel to India.

The articulate, persuasive and yet empathetic Shringla breathed new life into the bilateral relationship by giving interlocutors in Colombo, Kandy, Trincomalee and Jaffna, achievable and achievable goals to meet Sri Lanka’s felt needs in the economic and development fields. .

People-centered projects

Assuming that person-to-person interactions are the foundation of international relations, Shringla insisted in his talks in Sri Lanka on promoting person-to-person interactions through a variety of projects, especially connectivity projects.

He said at a meeting in Colombo: “With the improvement of the situation in Sri Lanka, it might be opportune for us to work on connectivity initiatives like the Jaffna flight to Chennai, the ferry services between Karaikal and Kankesanthurai and Dhanushkodi and Talaimanar and the Buddhist corridor. with the new Kushinagar International Airport. Today we are dedicating 1,235 houses to the third phase of the Indian housing project which stretches across the hills. The other projects, namely the Model Housing Village in Vavuniya District, the Vadamaraddchi School Building in Jaffna and the Saraswathy Central College Building in Pusselalwa, also reflect the people-centered benefits of our development cooperation. I would also like to point out that these projects employ local companies and invariably use Sri Lankan equipment and manpower in their execution.

“I hope that in the coming months the two sides will be able to complete some of the remaining projects like the Dambulla Cold Storage Factory, the Polonnaruwa Trilingual School and the Kandyan Dance School in Pallekale. whose progress had been hampered by the restrictions imposed by COVID 19 and the attendant administrative challenges. “

“The Indian government will also support the development of facilities for tourists and pilgrims at sites associated with the Ramayana tour in Sri Lanka,” he added.

While in Jaffna, Shringla said India will help maintain the India-funded state-of-the-art cultural center for five years as Jaffna Municipality is not well endowed.

Energy sector

The two countries have expressed interest in cooperating in the energy sector. Shringla’s offer of aid in the LNG and renewable energy sectors as well as oil exploration off northern Sri Lanka struck a chord with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila . India’s proposal to transform the Trincomalee reservoirs into an “energy hub” through a joint venture involving the Lanka Indian Oil Corporation and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation has been well received. This will be supported by a government-to-government agreement.

Shringla made it clear that no other party would be involved in this Indo-Lankan joint venture. He hoped that money would be found for the new program. He was pleased with the performance of the LIOC which runs the reservoirs and noted that it produces a new lubricant that brings benefits.

Sri Lanka, for its part, appears to have forgiven its longstanding reservations about the 2003 decision to hand over the 99 giant tanks from Trincomalee to India. Its nationalist Minister of Energy, Udaya Gammanpila, now wishes to cooperate with India and will visit India soon. However, India has no illusions about the restoration and use of 99 tanks at a time (refurbishment of the 77-year-old tanks would cost US $ 2 million per tank). He will restore them in stages.

India and Sri Lanka both want to cooperate in the LNG and renewable energy sector. While Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has pledged to switch to clean energy, India has made rapid progress as a producer of renewable energy and is able to invest in Sri Lanka. And India’s cooperation would come to Sri Lanka in a transparent manner and on the basis of mutual benefit that would place it in a class apart from another major development financier.

Another area covered by the Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs is the rapid implementation of development projects funded by India. During his meeting with the President on Tuesday, Shringla underscored the importance India attaches to the swift completion of mutually beneficial projects, including proposals to improve air and sea connectivity between India and Sri Lanka.

The delays in the implementation of the memoranda of understanding had worried even Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar raised this issue during his meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart, GLPeiris, in New York on the sidelines of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Jaishankar had said that swift implementation of the pending projects would help New Delhi to better advocate for Sri Lanka. Concerns have been expressed in New Delhi over the non-use of even the US $ 15 million granted to develop Buddhist ties.

Either way, Indians admit COVID-19 pandemic has hampered development work in Sri Lanka

Tamil areas

The development of the Tamil-speaking north and east of Sri Lanka and of Indian-born Tamils ​​in central Sri Lanka, as well as the political issues plaguing Tamils, have been constant concerns for India. During the visit to Jaffna, Shringla had met a wide range of people and interest groups and realized that they were very interested in development projects, especially connectivity with India via the Palaly airport and the seaport of Kankesanthurai.

On the long-standing issue of Tamil political autonomy, which seemed to be the main concern of Tamil political parties, Shringla espoused India’s policy of devolution according to the 13th. Amendment within a united and sovereign Sri Lanka. He told the Tamils ​​that India would try to be an intermediary between the Tamils ​​and the powers that be in Colombo and encourage them to talk to each other to find a mutually acceptable solution.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assured Shringla that he would formalize dialogue with Tamil parties, address the issue of small Tamil parties and also organize provincial elections.

On the issue of poaching of Indian fishermen in the waters of northern Sri Lanka, India will continue to call on the Lankan authorities to adopt a humanitarian approach vis-à-vis intruder fishermen. At the same time, India would help affected Lankan fishermen to develop their trade.

Chinese investments

Shringla never mentioned China in any of his statements, but New Delhi has let Colombo know that while it has no objection to a country investing in Sri Lanka, the plans may have security implications. for India, which India should approach with Colombo. Recently, India intervened to stop a Chinese energy project in the islands off Jaffna, not far from the Indian coast.

Generally speaking, New Delhi has let Colombo know that while India may not compete with China in financial terms, it can offer attractive, cheaper and better alternatives for Sri Lanka in the long run. It is now recognized in Colombo that there is a need to explore alternative development models and it should be noted that Lankan Foreign Minister GLPeries recently touted the virtues of non-alignment.

Defense cooperation

Regarding defense cooperation, the bilateral agreement is that India will continue to provide training and help with capacity building, especially in the Lankan Navy. It is understood that the cooperation between India and Sri Lanka for maintaining the freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean will continue and that Sri Lanka will establish a coordination center in Colombo for this purpose as planned.

Interestingly, Shringla’s visit almost coincided with the signing of the agreement between the Indian group Adani, the Lankan company John Keells and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority for the construction and operation of the west terminal of the Colombo port. The deal is seen in New Delhi and gives a majority stake in a Colombo port terminal which derives 70% of its business from Indian transshipment.


India-Lanka relations Visit to Sri Lanka


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