(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The newly appointed Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay Friday called on Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat and discussed ways to further expand and strengthen the relations between the two countries.
Conveying the greetings of the leadership of India to the President and the people of Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner expressed his gratitude to the President for accepting the credentials in an innovative manner via video conference on 14th May marking a historic moment in Sri Lanka’s diplomatic relations.
President Rajapaksa recalling his first State Visit to India in November 2019, the first overseas visit by him after assuming the office, thanked the Government of India for assisting Sri Lanka in dealing with the COVID19 pandemic and stated that he looks forward to further strengthening all-round bilateral cooperation between India and Sri Lanka.
Recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s solidarity visit to Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the dastardly Easter Sunday attack, High Commissioner noted the commitment of India at the highest level, as Sri Lanka’s closest maritime neighbor, to deepening its partnership with Sri Lanka for peace, prosperity and security of the two peoples.
During the discussion President Rajapaksa and the Indian Envoy reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to further strengthening bilateral relations exploring new avenues of cooperation.
President and the Indian High Commissioner stressed the need to expedite the implementation of already agreed joint projects for the benefit of both countries. Areas such as tertiary education, tourism, information and communication technology, agriculture and agri-based products were mentioned for enhancing bilateral cooperation.
Building on the areas identified as mutual priorities in the telephone conversation between the President and Prime Minister Modi on 23 May 2020, it was agreed to accelerate India’s participation in Sri Lanka’s post COVID economic recovery, including through development partnership projects in Sri Lanka and cooperation in trade, commerce and new areas with particular reference to Sri Lanka’s requirements.
Pointing out the contribution of Indian investments in Sri Lanka’s economy, High Commissioner noted that Indian companies are ready to invest in the priority sectors identified by Government of Sri Lanka.
The President and the High Commissioner also discussed ways to further expand and strengthen the ongoing close cooperation in the fields of defense and security including exchange of experience, expertise and information; and joint efforts to tackle common threats such as terrorism.
The Indian High Commissioner said that India was ready to provide more opportunities for Sri Lankan scholars to study in India in their chosen fields.
President Rajapaksa pointed out the need to develop people to people relations in addition to economic and trade cooperation.
Both Sri Lankan President and Indian envoy agreed in order to overcome challenges posed by COVID–19 pandemic mutually beneficial cooperation between countries of the region should be consolidated.
Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga was also present at the discussion.