Senior Indian Government officials, led by Indian Foreign Secretary, Vinay Kwatra, held high level discussions with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, when they were here on a brief visit yesterday (23) and underscored that the recent unprecedented economic, financial, and humanitarian assistance of over USD 3.5 billion to the people of Sri Lanka was guided by the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and the ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’ (SAGAR) vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Indian High Commission in Colombo said it was a frank, cordial and constructive discussion held between the two sides.
It was on 21 June that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe reiterated that India had a limit to support Sri Lanka financially.
In his parliamentary speech the Prime Minister underscored that Sri Lanka has taken loans amounting to USD 4 billion under the Indian credit line and had requested more loan assistance from Indian counterparts and also emphasised that India will not be able to continuously support Sri Lanka in this manner as their assistance has its limits.
Following the meeting yesterday, President Rajapaksa also reiterated that the Indian Foreign Secretary had assured that the Indian Government would extend its fullest support to Sri Lanka in overcoming the current difficult situation as a close friend.
Foreign Secretary Kwatra along with Secretary to the Finance Ministry of India Ajay Seth also called on Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and discussed Sri Lanka’s economic situation and highlighted India’s continuing support and assistance to the people of Sri Lanka.
Both parties held in-depth discussions on the Sri Lankan economy and efforts undertaken by the Government of Sri Lanka to achieve economic recovery.
The importance of promoting India-Sri Lanka investment partnership including infrastructure, connectivity, renewable energy and strengthening economic links between the two countries was highlighted.
The Indian Foreign Secretary held a separate meeting with Foreign Ministry Secretary Aruni Wijewardena and agreed to work in close coordination to strengthen diplomatic engagement and undertaking a bilateral visit at an early date.
The Government appreciated the consistent support of the Indian Government and its people over the past few years in counter-terrorism, maritime security, disaster management, humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, commercial engagement and people-to-people ties.
It may be recalled that development assistance extended by India stands at over USD 5 billion with more than USD 600 million being in grants, which include the Sri Lanka Unique Digital Identity Project. India continues to be the largest source of tourism for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka also welcomed the support extended by India during the meetings at the IMF in March this year and on subsequent occasions in different forums including regional and pluri-lateral organisations. They further acknowledged the initiatives taken by the Indian leadership in encouraging other countries to support Sri Lanka in dealing with the post-Covid normalisation of economic activity.
Chief Economic Advisor Dr. V. Anantha Nageswaran and Joint Secretary, Indian Ocean Region, Kartik Pande were also present.
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan