New Delhi: The stage is set for Sri Lanka's new president Gotabaya Rajapaksa's India visit, which will the first foreign visit by him since taking charge earlier this month. He will arrive in Delhi on Thursday evening and Friday will be the main day of engagement when he meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad house.
This visit is much-watched given India's neighbourhood policy and New Delhi's outreach to newly-elected governments in the region. In fact, India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar made an unscheduled visit to the Island country last week to physically hand over the PM Modi's invite to Gotabaya to visit India. During the meet, India also called on the new leadership to continue the process of national reconciliation in regard to the minority Tamilians living in Sri Lanka.
Last week, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "EAM also expected and he conveyed to President Rajapaksa India’s expectation that the Sri Lankan government will take forward the process of national reconciliation to arrive at a solution that meets the aspirations of the Tamil community for equality, justice, peace, and dignity."
Gotabaya, as the defence secretary in 2009, played a key role in the defeat of LTTE militant group but that also raised issues of human rights violations. And then China is the dragon in the room when it comes to Bejing's growing footprint in South Asia. New Delhi has dismissed such concerns.
"Our relationship with Sri Lanka or for that matter with any other country is not dependent on a third country, it stands independently. We enjoy a historical and very close relationship with Sri Lanka and we are looking forward and we will work very closely with the new Sri Lankan government," Raveesh Kumar said.
Earlier in 2019, Prime Minister Modi had made a solidarity visit to Sri Lanka after the Easter Sunday terror attacks in the country. During the visit, PM paid respects at one of the attack sites - St Anthony’s Church. All in All PM Modi has visited Sri Lanka 3 times since 2014-- with the first visit being in 2015, followed by a visit in 2017 and then June of 2019.
PM Modi government has been increasing its engagement with Colombo and helping to meet its development needs. Under the Indian Housing Project, more than 46,000 houses have been built in Northern and eastern provinces at the cost of 1,372 crores. This is also one of the largest projects undertaken by Indian govt abroad. The nation wise ambulance service has also got much applause by New Delhi in the country. In terms of major infrastructure projects, India will be been be supplying 160 passengers coached to Sri Lankan railways and building many solar projects.