Colombo ready for Indian PM

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will personally receive Narendra Modi when the Indian leader arrives in Colombo today for a packed three-hour visit. “This is our Prime Minister’s focussed solidarity visit to convey the solidarity of the Indian people with the Sri Lankan people barely seven weeks after the Easter suicide blasts rocked the island nation on April 21,” Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Taranjit Sandhu told the Sunday Island in a telephone interview.

This is Modi’s third visit to Sri Lanka in the last four years. Earlier, he visited the country in March 2015 and in May 2017. President Maithripala Sirisena will be present at the full ceremonial welcome with a 21-gun salute that will be accorded to the Indian leader. The President will host a lunch in Modi’s honour. It will be attended by the entire Sri Lankan cabinet, Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Chief Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, other TNA leaders and representatives of the 14,000-strong Indian expatriate community.

The visit to the Maldives on Saturday and to Sri Lanka on Sunday is Modi’s first after he was sworn in for a second five-year term on May 30. It re-emphasizes his government’s ‘Neighbours First’ foreign policy. His new External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is currently visiting Bhutan as a part of this policy.

India’s civilizational links with Sri Lanka are 2,600 years old. Both neighbours enjoy a vibrant and growing economic and commercial partnership, with bilateral trade growing rapidly in the last decade and a number of leading Indian private sector companies investing in Sri Lanka and establishing a presence in the country.