Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to visit India today

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

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 28, 2019, 11.21 AM (IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

The stage is set for Sri Lanka's new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's India visit, which will the first foreign visit by him since taking charge earlier this month.

Gotabaya arrives in Delhi today evening and Friday will be the main day of engagement when he meets PM Modi at Hyderabad house. 

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

In fact, India's external affairs minister S Jaishankar made an unscheduled visit to the island country last week 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. 

Last week, the ministry of external affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "EAM also expected and he conveyed to President Rajapaksa India’s expectation that the Sri Lankan government will take forward the process of national reconciliation to arrive at a solution that meets the aspirations of the Tamil community for equality, justice, peace and dignity."

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.

"Our relationship with Sri Lanka or for that matter with any other country is not dependent on a third country, it stands independently. We enjoy a historical and very close relationship with Sri Lanka and we are looking forward and we will work very closely with the new Sri Lankan government", Raveesh Kumar said.

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.  

Under the Indian Housing Project, more than 46,000 houses have been built in northern and eastern provinces at the cost of 1,372 crores. This is also one of the largest projects undertaken by the Indian government abroad.

The nationwise ambulance service has also got much applause. In terms of major infrastructure projects, India will be been supplying 160 passengers coached to Sri Lankan railways and building many solar projects.