Looking forward to strengthening bilateral relations with India: Sri Lanka's Gotabaya Rajapaksa

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 28, 2019, 03.46 PM(IST)

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (File photo) Photograph:( Reuters )

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Gotabaya will arrive in Delhi today evening. On Friday he will meet PM Modi at Hyderabad house. 

Looking forward to strengthening bilateral relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sri Lanka's Gotabaya Rajapaksa said on Thursday before departing for India in his first foreign visit since taking charge as the new President of the neighbouring island country.

"Leaving for my first state visit to India and looking forward to strengthening bilateral relations with Shri @narendramodi and Government of India," Gotabaya said on Twitter.

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Gotabaya will arrive in Delhi today evening. On Friday he will meet PM Modi at Hyderabad.

This visit is keenly awaited given India's neighbourhood policy and New Delhi's outreach to newly elected governments in the region.

Last week, India's external affairs minister S Jaishankar made an unscheduled visit to the island country to physically hand over PM Modi's invite to Gotabaya to visit India. During the meet, India also called on the new leadership to continue the process of national reconciliation with regards to the minority Tamils. 

Gotabaya as the defence secretary in 2009, played a key role in the defeat of LTTE militant group but that also raised issues of human right violations. And then China is the dragon in the room when it comes to Bejing's growing footprint in South Asia. New Delhi has dismissed such concerns.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Modi had made a solidarity visit to Sri Lanka after the Easter Sunday terror attacks in the country.

During the visit, PM Modi paid respects at one of the attack sites - St Anthony’s Church. PM Modi has visited Sri Lanka three times since 2014 - with the first visit being in 2015, followed by a visit in 2017 and then June 2019.

The Modi government has been increasing its engagement with Colombo and helping to meet its development needs.