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Modi, Mahinda Rajapaksa discuss bilateral ties in virtual summit
New Delhi, September 26, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa held a virtual summit today in which they discussed bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual concern.
Modi congratulated Rajapaksa on his assumption of office of Prime Minister with a decisive mandate at the Parliamentary Elections held in Sri Lanka in August.
Rajapaksa expressed his gratitude for the good wishes and conveyed his keenness to work together closely with Modi.
Both the leaders recalled the successful State Visits by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to India in November 2019 and February 2020, respectively. These visits gave clear political direction and vision for the future of the relationship, they noted.
Rajapaksa commended the strong leadership shown by Prime Minister Modi in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic based on the vision of mutual support and assistance to the countries of the region.
Both leaders agreed that the current situation presented a fresh opportunity to give added impetus to bilateral relations. Both the leaders expressed happiness that India and Sri Lanka worked very closely in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Modi reaffirmed India’s continued commitment for all possible support to Sri Lanka for minimising the health and the economic impact of the pandemic.
For imparting further impetus to the bilateral relationship, the two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation to combat terrorism and drug trafficking including in the fields of intelligence, information sharing, de-radicalization and capacity building.
A joint statement issued by the two sides said that they had agreed to continue the fruitful and efficient development partnership in accordance with the priority areas identified by the Government and people of Sri Lanka and to further broad base the islandwide engagement under the Memorandum of Understanding for Implementation of High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP) for the period 2020-2025.
They also agreed to facilitate an enabling environment for trade and investment between the two countries and to deepen the integration of supply chains in the backdrop of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two sides said they would work towards the early realization of infrastructure and connectivity projects including in the sectors of Ports and Energy through close consultations as per the Bilateral Agreements and MoUs, and strong commitment towards a mutually beneficial development cooperation partnership between the two countries.
They also agreed to strengthen technical cooperation in the areas of agriculture, animal husbandry, science & technology, health care and AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) as well as skill development by increased training of professionals thereby realizing the full potential of the demographic dividend in both countries.
Further, they agreed to strengthen people-to-people ties by exploring opportunities in the field of civilizational linkages and common heritage such as Buddhism, Ayurveda and Yoga. Government of India will facilitate the visit of a delegation of Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka in the inaugural international flight to the sacred city of Kushinagar, which has recently been announced as an International Airport recognizing its significance in Buddhism.
Both sides said they would facilitate tourism by enhancing connectivity and by the early establishment of an air bubble between the two countries to resume travel, bearing in mind threat posed by Covid-19 pandemic and to take all necessary preventative measures.
They would also continue engagement to address the issues related to fishermen through regular consultation and bilateral channels according to the existing frameworks and shared goals including the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
They decided to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces of the two sides including through mutual exchange of personnel visits, maritime security cooperation and support to Sri Lanka in the spheres of defence and security.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa welcomed the announcement made by Prime Minister Modi of India’s grant assistance of US$ 15 million for promotion of Buddhist ties between the two countries.
The grant will assist in deepening people-to-people linkages between the two countries in the sphere of Buddhism including inter alia through construction/renovation of Buddhist monasteries, capacity development, cultural exchanges, archaeological cooperation, reciprocal exposition of The Buddha’s relics, strengthening engagement of Buddhist scholars and clergy etc.
Modi called on the Government of Sri Lanka to address the aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka, including by carrying forward the process of reconciliation with the implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka.
Rajapaksa expressed the confidence that Sri Lanka will work towards realizing the expectations of all ethnic groups, including Tamils, by achieving reconciliation nurtured as per the mandate of the people of Sri Lanka and implementation of the Constitutional provisions.