Prime Minister Ranil Wickermesinghe is expected to travel to India this week in order to finalise the details pertaining to the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the island nation next month.
Modi will arrive in the country next month to take part in the Vesak celebrations.
During his visit Prime Minister Wickeremesinghe will be meeting several key members of the Indian government including its External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh and Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari.
This will be Prime Minister Modi’s second visit to Sri Lanka. He had visited Sri Lanka since May 2015. Earlier in 2015, he had inaugurated the reconstructed Northern Province Railway line that linked Jaffna with Colombo. It was first Prime Ministerial visit to Jaffna. The rail line is one of the few developmental projects undertaken by the Indian government in post-conflict Sri Lanka, where China has made deeper inroads.
The ‘International Day of Vesak’ will be hosted by Sri Lanka and the commemorations in Colombo will include an International Buddhist Conference in which over 400 delegates from more than 100 countries will participate.
Vesak is the most important day in the Buddhist calendar. It commemorates Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing away.
Modi’s visit would also focus on several key issues including the contract for construction of Trincomalee port.
During the visit, Modi is expected to take up the fishermen issue and China’s growing influence in the island with Sri Lanka.
Wickremesinghe will be on a five-day visit during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Modi to further expand ties in a range of areas and find a solution to the vexed fishermen issue.
The Indian Government has been undertaking large number of development projects in Sri Lanka for rehabilitation and resettlement of conflict-affected and internally displaced people in Tamil-majority Northern and Eastern provinces. India’s total development aid is more than USD 2.6 billion. As per the Government of Sri Lanka’s statistics, more than 880,000 Internally Displaced People have been resettled in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, as of end-August 2016, with around 43,600 people left to be resettled.
The flagship project is the US$ 270 million Indian Housing Project for constructing 46,000 houses in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka, which are nearing completion, and 4000 houses in the Central and Uva Provinces.
“The Prime Minister will have a luncheon meeting with Ranil Wickremesinghe on April 26,” Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Gopal Baglay said.
(Courtesy: Indian Media)