India, Sri Lanka to intensify maritime cooperation, aim for balanced trade


Taking a strategic view of their relations, India and Sri Lanka have decided to intensify cooperation in combating terrorism and work together for security and stability in maritime neighbourhood. The two countries also discussed steps to deepen economic engagement and strive for balanced trade.  

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has chosen India as his first overseas destination, held wide-ranging talks with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on September 15. The discussions covered an entire gamut of issues, including the issue of fishermen, cooperation in defence and security issues, development partnership, deeper economic engagement and the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka.

The two countries signed four agreements, which included, among others, a bilateral agreement between India and Sri Lanka to operationalize SAARC satellite to connect the region. Enhancing their development partnership, the two sides renewed an MoU regarding Indian grant assistance for implementation of small developmental projects.  They also signed pacts on setting up a 200 bed ward complex at District General Hospital, Vavuniya and exchanged letters on establishment of emergency ambulance services in Sri Lanka.

Mr Modi also congratulated the Sri Lankan Prime Minister on his victory in the Parliamentary elections and said India was honoured that Mr Wickremesinghe chose India as the first overseas destination. Speaking about the ongoing reconciliation progress in Sri Lanka, Mr Modi said, “Sri Lanka has voted twice this year for change, reforms, reconciliation and progress. There can be no stronger statement of Sri Lanka’s democratic tradition. There can be no clearer sign of Sri Lanka’s march towards a peaceful, inclusive and prosperous future.”

Mr Modi pushed for spurring “genuine reconciliation and development, so that all Sri Lankans, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, can live a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a united Sri Lanka.”

“India and Sri Lanka have a huge stake in each other’s success, and in stability and development in our region,” he underlined.

The two sides also decided to upscale their partnership in development in infrastructure, railways, energy, community development projects, agriculture, capacity building, science and technology, space and civil nuclear field. 

The fishermen issue figured prominently in discussions, with both sides encouraging fishermen’s associations to continue their efforts to find a solution.

Sri Lanka is India’s largest partner in defence training programme and both sides are expected to continue expanding cooperation in this area.

“We recognise our closely aligned security interests and the need to remain sensitive to each other’s concerns. We both reaffirmed our commitment to deepen our defence and security cooperation,” said Mr Modi.

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