New envoy reiterates India’s support to Sri Lanka for post-COVID economic recovery

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The newly accredited Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay paid a courtesy call on Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena at the Republic Building today, the Ministry of Foreign Relations said.

On his first working day as the High Commissioner after presenting Credentials on 14 May 2020, High Commissioner Baglay exchanged views on a wide range of bilateral issues with the Foreign Relations Minister during his call.

Minister Gunawardena, welcoming the new High Commissioner, assured Sri Lanka’s fullest commitment for stronger and deeper cooperation with India, while appreciating the continued exchanges of goodwill that are evident in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic.

High Commissioner expressed his gratitude for facilitating his presentation of credentials through a ceremony held via video conference.

High Commissioner Baglay conveyed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurances of closer cooperation with Sri Lanka through his neighborhood first policy.

Recalling the telephone conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on 23 May 2020, High Commissioner reiterated India’s abiding commitment to provide all possible support to Sri Lanka for mitigating the effects of COVID-19 and for post-COVID economic recovery.

High Commissioner also thanked the Minister for Government of Sri Lanka’s cooperation regarding Indians stranded in Sri Lanka and their repatriation.

Both dignitaries agreed to work towards mutually beneficial trade, investment, development and political relations in the post COVID-19 new international environment by enhancing maritime cooperation, security exchanges, ensuring food and health security, enhanced assistance for capacity building and technical cooperation.

It was agreed to kick start tourism exchanges based on the ancient foundation of Hindu-Buddhist cultural affinities between the two countries. Also both sides agreed to follow up on the pending Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and other bilateral instruments.

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha and senior officials of the Foreign Relations Ministry were also present during the call.

High Commissioner Baglay also called on Minister Arumugam Thondaman today and discussed bilateral cooperation for community development including the ongoing Indian Housing Project in the plantation sector and the landmark Jaffna Cultural Centre.

India is undertaking construction of 10,000 houses for estate workers, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Sri Lanka in 2017.

High Commissioner said that India will continue to undertake high impact, community-development projects for the people of Sri Lanka, in partnership with Government of Sri Lanka.

Meeting with Minister Chamal Rajapaksa, High Commissioner Baglay noted the Minister’s long-standing experience as a Parliamentarian and in various Ministerial capacities and sought his suggestions for further deepening the traditional, multi-faceted partnership between India and Sri Lanka especially in the fields of agriculture, food security and water, the Indian High Commission said.

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