India- Sri Lanka Bilateral Summit: Get full Joint Statement here

The India-Sri Lanka virtual Bilateral Summit was held today between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa. PM Modi began his address at the summit by thanking his PM Mahinda Rajapaksa for accepting his invitation for the virtual summit between the two nations.

The Prime Minister also congratulated the Sri Lankan PM on the victory of his party in the Sri Lankan Parliamentary Elections 2020. The two leaders discussed bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual concern during the virtual meet. 

I thank you (Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa) for accepting my invitation for this virtual Bilateral Summit between India and Sri Lanka. I also congratulate you for being elected as Prime Minister and victory of your party in Parliamentary elections: PM Narendra Modi pic.twitter.com/8S8WGuLwtq

— ANI (@ANI) September 26, 2020

This is the first time that PM Modi held a bilateral meeting with a leader from the neighbourhood amid COVID-19 pandemic.

India-Sri Lanka Bilateral Summit: Key Highlights

Speaking on relations between India and Sri Lanka, PM Modi stated that the relations between India and Sri Lanka are thousands of years old.

Further, highlighting India's neighbourhood first policy and SAGAR doctrine, PM Modi said that we give special priority to relations between the two countries.

#WATCH The relations between India and Sri Lanka are thousands of years old. According to my government's neighbourhood first policy and SAGAR doctrine, we give special priority to relations between the two countries: PM Narendra Modi at Virtual Bilateral Summit pic.twitter.com/ivBdKTyvE6

— ANI (@ANI) September 26, 2020

The Sri Lankan Prime Minister expressed gratitude for the way in which India worked for other countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PM Mahinda Rajapaksa further highlighted the joint operation between India and Sri Lanka to douse off the fire on MT New Diamond ship and said that it provided an opportunity for greater cooperation between the two countries.

The operation to douse off the fire on MT New Diamond ship provided an opportunity for greater cooperation between the two countries: Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa at Virtual Bilateral Summit pic.twitter.com/hSMRT8MDO1

— ANI (@ANI) September 26, 2020

India-Sri Lanka Joint Statement

To further enhance India and Sri Lanka's bilateral relationship, PM Modi and Sri Lankan PM agreed to:

(i) Enhance cooperation to combat terrorism and drug trafficking in fields of intelligence, information sharing, capacity building and de-radicalization

(ii) Continue the efficient development partnership between the two nations in accordance with the priority areas identified by the Sri Lankan Government and people to further broad base the island wide engagement under the MoU signed for the implementation of the High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP) for the period 2020-2025.

(iii) Work together to expeditiously complete construction of 10,000 housing units in the plantation areas, which was announced during the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Sri Lanka in May 2017.

(iv) Facilitate an enabling environment for trade and investment between the two countries and deepen integration of supply chains in the backdrop of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

(v) Work towards early realization of infrastructure and connectivity projects including in the Ports and Energy sector through close consultations as per the bilateral Agreements and MoUs signed between the two nations and the strong commitment towards a mutually beneficial development cooperation partnership between the two countries.

(vi) Deepen cooperation in renewable energy with special emphasis on solar projects under the US$ 100 million Line of Credit from India.

(vii) Strengthen technical cooperation in the areas of agriculture, animal husbandry, science and  technology, health care and AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) as well as skill development through training of professionals.

(viii) Further strengthen people-to-people ties by exploring opportunities in the field of civilizational linkages and common heritage such as Buddhism, Ayurveda and Yoga. Towards this, India will facilitate visit of a delegation of Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka in the inaugural international flight to the sacred city of Kushinagar, which has recently been announced as an International Airport recognizing its significance in Buddhism.

(ix) Facilitate tourism by enhancing connectivity and by early establishment of an air bubble between the two countries to resume air travel in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic by taking all necessary preventative measures.

(x) Continue engagement to address the issues related to fishermen through regular consultation and bilateral channels according to the existing frameworks and shared goals including the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

(xi) Strengthen cooperation between armed forces of the two sides including through mutual exchange of personnel visits, maritime security cooperation and support to Sri Lanka in the spheres of defence and security.

PM Modi also called on the Sri Lankan government to address the aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka, including by carrying forward the process of reconciliation with the implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed the confidence that Sri Lanka will work towards realizing the expectations of all ethnic groups, including Tamils, by achieving reconciliation nurtured as per the mandate of the people of Sri Lanka and implementation of the Constitutional provisions.

Both leaders also acknowledged the increasing convergence on regional and international issues of mutual engagement, including within the frameworks of SAARC, BIMSTEC, IORA and the United Nations system.

They also recognised BIMSTEC as an important platform for regional cooperation linking South Asia with South East Asia and agreed to work together to ensure a successful BIMSTEC Summit, which will be hosted under the Chairmanship of Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan PM also congratulated PM Narendra Modi for the strong support received from the international community for India’s election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the term 2021-2022.

PM Mahinda Rajapaksa also made a special mention of the Jaffna Cultural Centre, which is an iconic project that is being built with Indian assistance. The culture centre is almost ready. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister extended an invitation to PM Modi to inaugurate the centre.

Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa made a special mention of the Jaffna Cultural Centre, an iconic project built with Indian assistance. The Centre is almost ready and PM Rajapaksa extended an invitation to PM Modi to inaugurate the project: MEA pic.twitter.com/7gphafElDA

— ANI (@ANI) September 26, 2020

PM Modi further expressed hope that the temporary restrictions imposed by Sri Lanka on the imports of some products will be relaxed soon, as it will also benefit the Sri Lankan economy and people.

Key Announcements

PM Modi announces grant of USD 15 million for promotion of Buddhist ties between India-Sri Lanka

PM Modi announced grant assistance of USD 15 million for promotion of Buddhist ties between the two countries. The announcement was welcomed by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The grant will assist in deepening people-to-people linkages between the two countries in the sphere of Buddhism through construction and renovation of Buddhist monasteries, capacity development, cultural exchanges, archaeological cooperation, reciprocal exposition of the Buddha’s relics, strengthening engagement of Buddhist scholars and clergy.

India will facilitate the visit of a delegation of Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka in the first inaugural flight to Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh: MEA https://t.co/VmwZ1txMTM

— ANI (@ANI) September 26, 2020

India extends USD 400 million currency swap facility to Central Bank of Sri Lanka 

India and Sri Lank will also work to strengthen bilateral financial cooperation. India has extended 400 million dollars currency swap facility to Central Bank of Sri Lanka to assist with the economic recovery and tackle COVID19 related disruptions. 

India and Sri Lanka are working to strengthen bilateral financial cooperation. India has extended 400 million dollars currency swap facility to Central Bank of Sri Lanka to assist with the economic recovery and tackle COVID19 related disruptions: MEA

— ANI (@ANI) September 26, 2020

Background

India in its efforts to advance its neighbourhood first policy has planned a series of consultations with the neighbourhood countries. 

India on September 20, 2020 extended a USD 250 million loan to the Maldives in response to the request for financial assistance made by Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to PM Narendra Modi to overcome economic difficulties faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

India has also reportedly reached out to the Afghan government to extend its support to it in the backdrop of intra-Afghan talks. India has also reportedly planned a series of high-level visits from Afghanistan in the coming days.

Besides this, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is expected to hold a meeting of the India-Bangladesh consultative mechanism at the end of the month to come with a roadmap for the next two years.

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