Sri Lankan FM Basil Rajapaksa meets PM Modi, thanks PM for financial assistance

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FM Rajapaksa briefed the Prime Minister on initiatives taken by both countries to increase bilateral economic cooperation and thanked him for the support extended by India for the Sri Lankan economy.

New Delhi: Finance Minister of Sri Lanka, Basil Rajapaksa, who is on an official visit to New Delhi, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, March 16. Sri Lankan FM Basil Rajapaksa meets PM Modi, thanks PM for financial assistance
PM Modi reiterated India would “continue to stand” with the friendly people of Sri Lanka, an official statement said here.

FM Rajapaksa briefed the Prime Minister on initiatives taken by both countries to increase bilateral economic cooperation and thanked him for the support extended by India for the Sri Lankan economy.

PM Modi spoke about the central role that Sri Lanka occupies in India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and its SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) doctrine.

The visiting Minister Rajapaksa noted the deepening of people-to-people relations between both countries, including the cultural sphere. The Prime Minister pointed to the potential for increasing tourist flows, including joint promotion of Buddhist and Ramayan tourism circuits.

Sri Lanka is reportedly experiencing a huge foreign exchange crisis, which increased its inability to meet the monetary obligations to China on several projects.

One such project was the Hambantota Port that forced Colombo to incur losses instead of generating revenue. In addition, the Belt and Road Initiative by China also allowed Sri Lanka to borrow commercial loans on infrastructure projects without strict conditionality, ultimately luring the island country into massive forex debt.

In January this year, in a significant diplomatic gesture, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar held a virtual meeting with the Finance Minister of Sri Lanka Rajapaksa and assured all support to the island nation.

Dr Jaishankar conveyed that India has always stood with Sri Lanka and will continue to support Sri Lanka in “all possible ways” to overcome the economic and other challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

An MEA statement said, “As close friends and maritime neighbours, both India and Sri Lanka stand to gain from closer economic inter linkages.”

Sri Lanka had sought Indian investments in several important spheres, including ports, infrastructure, energy, renewable energy, power and manufacturing, and assured that a conducive environment would be provided to encourage such investments.

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