Indian, Sri Lankan foreign ministers review bilateral agenda

S. Jaishankar - Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday spoke to his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena, covering bilateral issues as well as regional cooperation under seven-nation grouping BIMSTEC.

The conversation came amid growing concern in India about the China-backed Colombo Port City project in Sri Lanka, Indian media reported.

“Good conversation with FM @DCRGunawardena of Sri Lanka. Reviewed our bilateral agenda. Also discussed BIMSTEC, IORA and other regional mechanisms. Will continue to remain in close touch,” Jaishankar tweeted.

India has been pushing for expanding regional cooperation under the framework of BIMSTEC.

Besides India, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) comprises Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.

The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is an inter-governmental organisation aimed at strengthening regional cooperation.

With Sri Lanka moving ahead with the Colombo Port City project, India last week said it expects that the island nation will remain mindful of their “excellent bilateral cooperation”, including for mutual security in the maritime domain.

Asked about the project at an online media briefing, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi at a media briefing on Thursday said India has been closely following the recent developments from its security perspective.

“We expect that Sri Lanka will remain mindful of our excellent bilateral cooperation, including for mutual security in our shared environment, which includes the maritime domain,” Bagchi said.

Jaishankar also held virtual discussions with his Norwegian counterpart Ine Eriksen Soreide.

“Good virtual discussion with FM Ine Eriksen Søreide of Norway. Exchanged views on our close cooperation in the UN Security Council. Noted the continuing progress in our bilateral cooperation,” the external affairs minister tweeted.

(Source: PTI)