India is ready to give priority to Sri Lanka when supplying to other countries the vaccine now being produced by India to treat COVID-19 virus, the External Affairs Minister of India Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Arriving yesterday in the country for a two-day visit, the Indian Minister called on President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat today (6).
Commenting on the future course of action to control the COVID-19 pandemic during the ensuing discussion President stated that Sri Lanka would like to obtain the COVID vaccine, which is being produced by India following an accurate assessment of the need for treatment.
Dr. Jaishankar agreed to give priority to Sri Lanka when his country began exporting the vaccine to other countries. Both the President and the Indian Minister agreed to further enhance Indo – Sri Lanka bilateral relations so as to maximize mutual benefits.
In addition to the ongoing projects carried out in Sri Lanka with the assistance of India, several other areas for cooperation development were identified during the discussion. The East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port, LNG power plant, construction of houses and roads, development of agriculture and research, communication technology and development of alternative energy sources are among them.
Stating that Sri Lanka possesses a youth generation equipped with formal education, President Rajapaksa sought India’s support to provide them with proper vocational training in various fields. When specific needs of Sri Lanka are known, India is willing to assist vocational training programmes, the External Affairs Minister said. Indian aid has already been received to utilize solar power as an alternative energy source. He said that India would be able to provide further financial and technical assistance in the future.
Both parties expressed views on the need to revive the tourism sector which was crippled in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Maldives continues to attract tourists following the bio-bubble method. A large number of Indians have already gone there. People like to travel in order to get rid of the stress caused by the pandemic. Hotels in New Delhi are now brimming with Indians. We can encourage them to visit Sri Lanka”, Dr. Jaishankar said.
It was decided to hold a joint discussion between India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal as soon as possible to determine a possible course of action for the revival of the tourism industry.
Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Gopal Bagley, Joint Secretaries to the External Affairs Ministry of India Amit Narang and Dr. Shilpak Ambule, Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga and the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Ministry Admiral Jayanath Colombage were also present during the discussion.