Sri Lanka, India to enhance cooperation

Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The leaders of India and Sri Lanka have agreed to further strengthen collaboration in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, in a telephone conversation yesterday morning.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa held a very constructive and cordial dialog over the telephone with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a statement from the President’s office said. In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, they agreed to further strengthen all aspects of the bilateral relations. Indian media gave wide publicity to the two leader’s telephone conversation.

The President speaking from the Presidential Secretariat appreciated the opportunity to discuss matters of mutual interest with the Indian Premier and thanked him for the support extended by India to help Sri Lanka face these difficult times. India’s gift of 10 tonnes of medical supplies proved to be very useful, said the President in appreciation.

“I believe India has managed the COVID-19 pandemic well,” noted President. “I must commend Your Excellency’s efforts, particularly the economic stimulus package you have introduced to help the disadvantaged groups.”

Responding, PM Modi noted that even though it is not easy to manage a population of more than 1.3 billion, about 75 percent of the spread of the virus has been contained.

The Indian Premier commended President Rajapaksa as a leader with a clear vision with the ability to take tough and quick decisions. “According to the information I have received, Sri Lanka has managed the crisis successfully,” further commented PM Modi. That credit belongs to President Rajapaksa, continued the Indian Premier.

President Rajapaksa sought the intervention of PM Modi to revive some of the key projects as Sri Lanka as strives to restore the economy. He asked PM Modi  to “direct those responsible from India’s side to expedite construction of the East Terminal of the Colombo Port as early as possible as it will be a significant boost to our economic landscape.”

“I am trying to promote value added industrial and agricultural activities,” explained President, “and will be happy if you could encourage Indian investors to start such investments, including Indian companies already in Sri Lanka to increase domestic value addition in the context of COVID-19 economic priorities.”

“If the Government of India could provide US$ 1.1 billion special SWAP facility to top up US$ 400 million under the SAARC Facility,” requested the President, “it would enormously help Sri Lanka in dealing with our foreign exchange issues.”

In turn, the Indian Premier assured that he is personally committed to help Sri Lanka. “We are ready to help under terms that are favorable to Sri Lanka.”

He suggested to President to appoint an official to work directly on this regard with the newly appointed Colombo based Indian High Commissioner.

The two leaders agreed to continue with the ongoing bilateral projects that brings direct benefits to the people.

(Source: Daily News)