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International News
Sri Lankan PM appreciative of PM Modi's initiative to promote Buddhist ties
 
Colombo, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday expressed his appreciation for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative to promote Buddhist ties, during his talks with Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla here.

Foreign Secretary Shringla, who is on a four-day visit to Sri Lanka, called on Prime Minister Rajapaksa at his official residence Temple Trees on Monday morning.

At the outset, Secretary Shringla conveyed the "very personal greetings" of Prime Minister Modi and the best wishes of External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar.

During the meeting, the two delegations discussed a number of sectors of mutual cooperation, including the further strengthening of bilateral relations, ongoing projects, tourism and the promotion of Buddhist ties, said a press statement from the Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s Office.

As Prime Minister Rajapaksa voiced appreciation of Prime Minister Modi’s initiative to promote Buddhist ties, Foreign Secretary Shringla said it was a priority area of Prime Minister Modi.

Last year, during the virtual bilateral summit between the two prime ministers, the Indian Prime Minister announced a $15 million grant for the promotion of Buddhist ties that aimed to deepen people-to-people linkages between the two countries.

Secretary Shringla said India is also looking forward to receiving the first pilgrims flight, from Sri Lanka, to the Kushinagar Airport (in Uttar Pradesh) after it was upgraded as an international airport. This was also a request made by Prime Minister Modi during the virtual summit last year.

Another topic of discussion centered around the resumption of tourism. With the vaccine drives in both countries progressing well, Secretary Shringla spoke of the importance of resuming connectivity.

India has been Sri Lanka’s top source of tourists with inbound tourism from India making up about 18% of total tourist arrivals in pre-COVID-19 years.

Shringla also called on Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa during which the two

discussed in length the means of further strengthening bilateral ties to face the present global situation.

Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa appreciated India’s support to Sri Lanka as a neighbour and a regional power and added that mutual understanding would further enhance relations.

The Indian Foreign Secretary assured of India’s support to uplift Sri Lanka’s economy that has been affected by the pandemic.

He said Indian businessmen would be encouraged to explore opportunities in Sri Lanka.


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