Sushma Swaraj pays homage at IPKF Memorial in Colombo
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is presently in Colombo to prepare the agenda for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the island-nation, paid homage to the brave soldiers of the Indian Army at the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) Memorial here.
Colombo: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is presently in Colombo to prepare the agenda for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the island-nation, paid homage to the brave soldiers of the Indian Army at the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) Memorial here.
"Homage to the brave. Minister @SushmaSwaraj at the IPKF Memorial," tweeted MEA official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.
The Sri Lankan government had mooted the idea of a war memorial to those soldiers of the IPKF who lost their lives during the peacekeeping mission in the early 1990s during the rule of President Premadasa .
The memorial was finally constructed in Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte on the outskirts of Colombo in 2008.
The names of the 1200 soldiers who died are inscribed on black marble. The first official memorial service was held on August 15, 2010, when the then Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Ashok Kantha, laid a wreath in honour of the dead.
The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was the Indian military contingent performing a peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990.
It was formed under the mandate of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord signed between India and Sri Lanka in 1987 that aimed to end the Sri Lankan Civil War between militant Sri Lankan Tamil nationalists such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan military.
The External Affairs Minister will later in the day meet with her Sri Lankan counterpart Mangla Samaraveera.
Swaraj is expected to call on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at 12.15 pm, and thereafter, is likely to meet leaders of the TNA and SLMC between 2.45 pm and 3.40 pm.
At 3.40 pm the visiting External Affairs Minister is expected to meet representatives of Indian origin Tamils for about 20 minutes, and thereafter is expected to meet representatives of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) and the Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka for another 20 minutes.
Swaraj is expected to call on the Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament at his residence at around 5.10 pm.
She will then depart for India from the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo at around 5.30 pm.
Earlier on Friday, Swaraj was received at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo by Sri Lankan Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith Pathmakanpha Perera.
She thereafter called on Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.
Prime Minister Modi, who is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka on a two-day visit on March 13 and 14 is expected to offer it and the island nations of Seychelles and Mauritius a broad range of military and civilian assistance in a bid to wrest back some of the influence that China has gained by spending billions of dollars in the region.
China has built seaports, power plants and highways across the small island nations. Its navy has also made forays into the Indian Ocean, including when submarines docked last year in Sri Lanka, rattling New Delhi, which has an uneasy relationship with Beijing.
Prime Minister Modi is expected to tighten defence and security cooperation and push for final approval for a 500 MW power plant to be built by India's state-run National Thermal Power Corporation under a 2012 agreement in Trincomalee, a strategic port in eastern Sri Lanka, Indian officials said.
The two sides were also in talks to upgrade military training, a Sri Lankan government official said.