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Friday, September 29, 2023

Rajnath’s 2-day visit to Sri Lanka will be ‘landmark’ in building strong ties: Govt

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NEW DELHI, Sep 1: The government on Friday said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s two-day visit to
Sri Lanka on September 2 and 3 will be an important “landmark” in building strong bonds of
friendship between the two countries.
Singh will hold talks with President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena,
the defence ministry said. Wickremesinghe also holds the charge of Sri Lanka’s defence ministry.
“During the visit, Rajnath Singh will hold talks with President and Defence Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil
Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said the entire gamut of India’s defence ties between the two countries will be reviewed during
the meetings.
Singh will also visit Nuwara Elia in Central Sri Lanka and Trincomalee which is located in the eastern
part of the country. “This visit of Rajnath Singh will reiterate India’s continued commitment in
furthering the existing warm and friendly relations with Sri Lanka,” the ministry said.
“It will be an important landmark in building the strong bonds of friendship between the two
countries,” it said.
India has been expanding its overall strategic ties with Sri Lanka amid concerns over China’s
attempts to increase influence over the island nation.
The docking of the Chinese missile and satellite tracking ship ‘Yuan Wang ‘ at Hambantota port in
August last year had triggered a diplomatic row between India and Sri Lanka. Another Chinese
warship docked at the Colombo port last month.
In August last year, India handed over a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft to Sri Lanka.
The aircraft was given to Sri Lanka from the inventory of the Indian Navy to help the country meet its
immediate security requirement.
India has been supporting various capacity building measures of Sri Lankan defence forces including
providing indigenously constructed Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs).
Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe visited India in July during which both sides vowed to further
boost their defence and strategic ties.
It is the first visit to India by a Sri Lankan leader since the island nation reeled under a severe
economic crisis last year.
India extended financial assistance worth around USD 4 billion to Sri Lanka, including lines of credit,
for purchases of food and fuel last year when it was hit by the economic crisis.
New Delhi also provided guarantees to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help the country
secure a USD 2.9 billion bailout package. (PTI)

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The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur
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