Modi meets Mahinda Rajapaksa; Sri Lankan Tamils, anti-terrorism among bilateral issues discussed

Kashmir Times. Dated: 2/9/2020 1:45:23 AM

NEW DELHI, Feb 8 (Agencies): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday held talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa covering a range of key bilateral issues, including trade, defence and security as well as the island nation's Tamil population.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, elder brother of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, arrived here on Friday on a five-day visit, his first overseas tour after being appointed as prime minister of the island nation in November last year.
After the meeting the Sri Lankan PM, Modi said the two countries have decided to deepen cooperation to combat terrorism.
"We deliberated upon strengthening cooperation in combating terrorism," he said.
"We deliberated on joint projects in Sri Lanka besides deepening trade, investment, and people-to-people ties," PM Modi said, adding that, "Stability, security, and prosperity of Sri Lanka is in interests of India as well as Indian Ocean Region."
He further said that India has been a "trusted partner" in Sri Lanka's development and a new Line of Credit announced last year will deepen cooperation in that area. "We deliberated on Tamil issue with an open mind; hope Sri Lanka will fulfil the aspiration of Tamil people," he said referring to the Tamil population in the island nation.
"I am confident that Sri Lankan govt will realise expectations of Tamil people for equality, justice, peace within united Sri Lanka," Modi said.
Rajapaksa expressed gratitude to the Indian prime minister after their talk.
"I would like to thank PM Modi for his govt's neighbourhood first policy, a priority he attaches to Sri Lanka," Rajapaksa said adding that, "India is our closest neighbour, long-standing friend; close historical links provided a solid foundation to our ties."
Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar called on the Sri Lankan prime minister.
Mahinda Rajapaksa served as the country's president from 2005-2015, becoming one of the longest-serving leaders in South Asia. He was also prime minister for a brief period in 2018.
His tenure as president saw China expanding its footprints in the Indian Ocean island nation, triggering concerns in India.
However, ties between the two countries have been on an upswing in the last four years.
President Gotabaya Rajpaksa visited India in November in his first official overseas trip after taking charge of the top office.
Both sides resolved to further deepen bilateral defence and security ties during the Sri Lankan president's visit.



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