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Indian External Affairs Minister to visit Sri Lanka next week

The External Affairs Minister of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar will be paying a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka next week, says the Indian High Commission in Colombo.Thereby, Dr. Jaishankar is expected to be here from the 28th to 30th of March.

His visit to the country will be significant at a time where Sri Lanka and India have finalised the inking of three maritime security agreements which will be of Indian strategic interests in the Southern Indian Ocean region amid China’s growing inroads,

According to a statement issued by the Indian External Affairs Ministry, Dr. Jaishankar is visiting Sri Lanka and the Maldives at the respective invitations of his counterparts of the two island nations, Abdulla Shahid and Prof. G.L. Peiris, from the 26th to 30th of March.

His visit to Addu city in the Maldives is taking place this weekend (March 26-27). He is scheduled to call on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and hold discussions with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid.

Following his arrival in Sri Lanka on Monday (March 28), Dr. Jaishankar will participate in the BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting in Colombo the next day.

Dr. Jaishankar’s visit to Sri Lanka next week follows the visits to India by Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa in December 2021 and earlier this month and that of Foreign Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris in February 2022. “The bilateral meetings and interactions which EAM will have in Sri Lanka highlight the priority that Sri Lanka occupies for India,” the statement read further.

The Indian External Affairs Ministry said, “Both Maldives and Sri Lanka are India’s key maritime neighbours in the Indian Ocean Region and occupy a special place in Prime Minister’s vision of ‘SAGAR’ and Neighbourhood First. EAM’s visit is testimony to the importance that India attaches to its close and friendly relations with the Maldives and Sri Lanka.”

The visit comes at a time when the island nation is grappled with an ongoing economic and power crisis and shortages of fuel, LP gas, and other essential items.

Eyeing to secure its strategic interests in the Southern Indian Ocean region amid China’s growing inroads, New Delhi is exploring with Colombo three maritime security agreements that will strengthen India’s interests, particularly around the eastern Trincomalee harbour.

This mechanism include supply of Donier surveillance aircraft for the Sri Lanka Air Force, a ship repair dock for the Sri Lanka Navy in Trincomalee and suggestion to post a Sri Lankan Navy officer at the Intelligence Fusion Centre, a Bahrain-based intelligence sharing office which is a US Navy initiative to combat international terrorism, the narcotics trade and ensure safe maritime passage for commercial vessels in the region,.

India is also keen to start a renewable energy (solar power) project in and around Sampur near Trincomalee and some of the economic projects which were discussed when Sri Lankan Finance Minister visited India recently. to fine tune one bn usd Line of Credit to boost the economy of the island nation.

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