External affairs minister S Jaishankar called on Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday following his arrival in India for a two-day visit. “Honoured to call on President Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka during his India visit,” Jaishankar tweeted. During his visit, Wickremesinghe is scheduled to meet President Droupadi Murmu and hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Confident that his meeting with PM Narendra Modi tomorrow will further strengthen our neighbourly bonds and take forward India’s Neighbourhood First and SAGAR policies,” said the Union minister.
PM Modi and Wickremesinghe will hold wide-ranging talks on Friday covering all key aspects of relations between the two countries.
Honoured to call on President Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka during his India visit.
Confident that his meeting with PM @narendramodi tomorrow will further strengthen our neighborly bonds and take forward India’s Neighbourhood First and SAGAR policies.@RW_UNP pic.twitter.com/BiHsgVbhqG
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) July 20, 2023
This is Wickremesinghe’s first visit to India after becoming the President of Sri Lanka following a major economic and political crisis last year that saw widespread protests by common people who stormed into President’s Palace that eventually led to then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s escape to Maldives and then to Singapore.
The visit comes at a time when Sri Lanka once again seems to tilt towards China, whom the experts blamed for the country’s soaring crisis, while India continues to extend assistance addressing the economic crisis under its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
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Last year alone, India offered assistance of about $4 billion to Sri Lanka through multiple credit lines and currency support. In March this year, New Delhi extended the tenure of a $1 billion credit line facility, given in March 2022, till March 2024.
It was due to India’s hard lobbying that Sri Lanka managed to secure a bailout package worth $2.9 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for which Colombo did thank New Delhi. The IMF package stipulates that Sri Lanka restructure its debt by negotiating with the creditors – India, China and Japan.
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