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Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi who visited Sri Lanka at the invitation of President Maithripala Sirisena concluded his two-day official visit on Saturday 14 March 2015. He was received on arrival by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe along with several dignitaries. The visit follows President Maithripala Sirisena’s first overseas visit to India in February 2015.
The Prime Minister of India was accorded a ceremonial welcome on 13 March 2015 at the Presidential Secretariat including a Guard of Honour and the Gun Salute. The President of Sri Lanka, accompanied by the Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and several Cabinet Ministers and, officials engaged in bilateral talks with the visiting Prime Minister and the Indian delegation. President Sirisena hosted a Banquet in honour of the visiting Prime Minister. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe hosted a lunch in honour of Prime Minister Modi at which most of the Members of Parliament were present. On Friday (13 March) the Indian Prime Minister addressed a Special Sitting of the Parliament, visited the Mahabodhi Society in Colombo, laid a floral wreath at the IPKF memorial and addressed a gathering of the Business Community.
The official discussions on 13 March between the two countries were marked by friendship, mutual respect and understanding. President Sirisena welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized the historic nature of the visit which is the first stand alone visit of an Indian Prime Minister to Sri Lanka in 28 years. He recalled his fruitful State Visit to India in February and reiterated his thanks and gratitude for the warmth and generosity accorded to him by the Government and people of India.
Characterizing the visit of Prime Minister Modi as a great honour bestowed on Sri Lanka, President Sirisena said it further consolidates a relationship which spans thousands of years. He observed that the expanse and depth of the areas which at present straddle the bilateral relationship in the political, economic, cultural, and security related spheres and people to people contacts is a manifestation of a relationship which has matured into an excellent example of bilateral understanding.
Prime Minister Modi in his remarks said he was proud that an Indian Prime Minister has undertaken a visit even after 28 years infusing a new energy and confidence to the relationship. He thanked the government of Sri Lanka for the historic opportunity to address the Parliament at its Special Sitting. While views on recent developments in the political sphere were shared, Prime Minister Modi commended the Government for building unity and elevating the level of confidence within Sri Lanka which he said was important to India and the region. He also commended the efforts by President Sirisena to build an inclusive future for Sri Lanka. While assuring that India will not allow its territory to be used for any activities inimical to Sri Lanka the Indian Prime Minister emphasized that India would stand by Sri Lanka to build a future that accommodates all sections of society.
The discussions also particularly focused on all matters of bilateral importance including the multifaceted areas of development cooperation, education, technology, fisheries, connectivity, culture, trade and economic relations, energy, defence and security, anti-narcotics, health, agriculture and Indian Ocean & maritime affairs. The two leaders agreed to take forward the discussions of the recent high level visits with concrete initiatives on all areas of mutual interest.
While Sri Lanka’s appreciation on India’s development assistance valued at US $ 1.6 Billion including in areas of housing, transport infrastructure, health, was re-iterated by President Sirisena, Prime Minister Modi in turn expressed India’s willingness to extend further cooperation on Sri Lanka’s needs. The Indian Premier announced an additional credit line for the railway sector valued at US $ 318 million. A currency swap worth US $ 1.5 billion between the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Reserve Bank of India was also announced.
The two sides have agreed to take forward the several bilateral initiatives at officials/experts level in the areas of ; Ocean economy; electricity grid connectivity, joint development of the upper Oil Tank Farms in Trincomalee; recommencement of ferry services; and, the establishment of the Ramayana trail in Sri Lanka and the Buddhist circuit in India to reinvigorate tourism and people to people contacts.
Prime Minister Modi announced India’s intention to extend a facility of ‘on arrival’ tourist visa through electronic system for Sri Lankan nationals which will be operationlized on 14th April to coincide with both the birthday of the Indian Buddhist leader Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. He also announced the early commencement of Air India direct flights between New Delhi and Colombo; the ‘Festival Of India'; and, holding the “Cricket Connect” exhibition which will coincide with the Indian Cricket Team’s tour to Sri Lanka in August 2015.
Signifying the continuing momentum of the bilateral engagement, four instruments relating to Customs Cooperation, the establishment of Rabindranath Tagore Auditorium at the Ruhunu University, Youth Development, and, Visa Exemptions for Diplomatic and Official passports holders, were signed.
On Saturday (14 March), the Indian Prime Minister visited the sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and Ruwanweliseya in Anuradhapura during which he was accompanied by President Sirisena. He also visited Talaimannar where he launched the new signaling system and the railway track and flagged-off the train between Madhu Road and Talaimannar Pier Station.
In Jaffna, Prime Minister Modi, laid the foundation stone for the India funded Jaffna Cultural Centre. The Prime Minister was hosted for lunch by the Governor Palihakkara of the Northern Province.
In Ilavalai, Jaffna, the Indian Prime Minister handed over several houses to beneficiaries of the Indian-funded housing units to former IDPs under the 50,000 houses programme.
During the visit, several political personalities in Sri Lanka called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
14 March 2015
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