‘Will Work Closely’: EAM S Jaishankar On 3-Day Visit to Sri Lanka

His first foreign visit of the year follows after an invitation by Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena.

2 min read
FIle image of Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday, 5 January, reached Colombo for a three-day visit to Sri Lanka, where he is set to meet the island’s top leadership and discuss a host of bilateral issues.

His first foreign visit of the year followed after an invitation by Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena.

The Ministry of External Affairs informed that the visit signifies that both nations consider strengthening relations in all spheres of mutual interest a priority, PTI reported.

S Jaishankar also tweeted on Wednesday, “Thank FM Dinesh Gunawardena
for his invitation and hospitality. Appropriate that Sri Lanka is my first visit in 2021. Reviewed our cooperarion and will work closely to fulfil the vision of our leaders.”

The Sri Lankan administration also put forward a request for Indian assistance in obtaining the COVID vaccine during meetings with Jaishankar in Colombo. According to an official statement to PTI, India has agreed to give priority to the island nation when exporting its COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking as the COVID-19 crisis continues, the EAM said, “We are now looking at post-COVID cooperation and I carry back with me Sri Lanka's interest in accessing vaccines from India.”

'An Inclusive Political Outlook That Encourages Ethnic Harmony’

Jaishankar also brought up the expectations of the Tamil minority of the region, saying India will extend its support to the reconciliation process in the country and a political outlook that ‘encourages ethnic harmony’.

He said, “as we promote peace and well-being in the region, India has been strongly committed to the unity, stability and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. Our support for the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka is long-standing, as indeed for an inclusive political outlook that encourages ethnic harmony,” Hindustan Times quoted.

“That applies equally to the commitments made by the Sri Lankan government on meaningful devolution, including the 13th amendment of the Constitution. The progress and prosperity of Sri Lanka will surely be advanced as a consequence,” he added.

Jaishankar also expressed India’s commitment to better Sri Lanka’s capabilities in dealing with upcoming maritime challenges, and that the Indian government anticipates the return of Indian fishermen detained by Sri Lankan authorities for crossing the maritime boundary as soon as possible.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa had spoken at a virtual summit in September 2019, emphasising the need to strengthen ties between the two nations.

(With inputs by PTI and Hindustan Times)

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