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PM Modi holds bilateral talks with Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa

PM Modi also announced grant assistance of$15 million for promotion of Buddhist ties between the two countries

September 26, 2020 / 03:13 PM IST
File photo

File photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 26 held a virtual bilateral summit with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa and discussed a wide range of topics, including relations between the two neighbours and the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his opening remarks at a virtual bilateral summit, PM Modi said he was confident that the massive electoral victory of the ruling party in Sri Lanka, backed by the Rajapaksa government's policies, will facilitate deeper cooperation between the two countries.

Rajapaksa was sworn in as Sri Lankan prime minister for a fresh term on August 9 after his party, the Sri Lanka People's Front, secured a two-third majority in parliamentary polls.

"The relations between India and Sri Lanka are thousands of years old. According to my government's neighbourhood first policy and SAGAR doctrine, we give special priority to relations between the two countries," PM Modi said.

"I express my gratitude for the way in which India worked for other countries during the COVID-19 pandemic," Rajapaksa said, adding that the operation to douse the fire on MT New Diamond "provided an opportunity for greater cooperation between the two countries." 

The fire on board an oil tanker off Sri Lanka's coast was brought under control with India's help, the Indian Navy had said on September 5. The ship was carrying 270,000 tonne of crude oil from Kuwait to India.

PM Modi, the Ministry of External Affairs said later, also announced grant assistance of$15 million for promotion of Buddhist ties between the two countries.

"In the current COVID imposed restrictions, the successful conduct of the virtual summit reflects the high degree of commitment at the leaders' level on taking forward the bilateral relations," MEA's Joint Secretary for Indian Ocean Region Division Amit Narang said.

"India and Sri Lanka are working to strengthen bilateral financial cooperation. India has extended $400 million currency swap facility to Central Bank of Sri Lanka to assist with the economic recovery and tackle COVID-19 related disruptions," the MEA added.

India will facilitate the visit of a delegation of Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka in the first inaugural flight to Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, the MEA said after the meeting.

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first published: Sep 26, 2020 03:12 pm