Colombo: Proving the priority that India occupies in Sri Lanka specially at a time when the country is facing one of its worst economic crisis, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will visit Sri Lanka on March 28 to 30.
Visiting on the invitation of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Affairs Minister, G.L. Peiris, Jaishankar’s visit follows Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s visit to India early this month and last December and Minister Peiris’ visit to India in February.
“The bilateral meetings and interactions which EAM will have in Sri Lanka highlight the priority that the Sri Lanka occupies for India,” announcing the visit of EAM, the Indian External Affairs Ministry stated.
In a series of financial and humanitarian assistance by India, on March 18, $1 billion credit facility was extended to Sri Lanka as a “short term concessional loan facility”.
Helping to import food, other essential commodities and medicines from India, the SBI had provided the facility following an agreement signed between the two countries during the visit of Lanka’s Finance Minister Rajapaksa.
Triggered by a shortage of foreign exchange, with last week’s $1 billion, India has provided $2.4 billion financial assistance to Sri Lanka since January.
Jaishankar, who was present at the signing of the agreement with Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had tweeted: “Neighbourhood first. India stands with Sri Lanka. $1 billion credit line signed for supply of essential commodities. Key element of the package of support extended by India,” Jaishankar tweeted.
Before visiting Colombo, Jaishankar will visit Addu city in Maldives on March 26-27 and will call on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and is to hold discussions with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid.
Both Maldives and Sri Lanka are India’s key maritime neighbours in the Indian Ocean Region and occupy special place in Prime Minister’s vision of ‘SAGAR’ and Neighbourhood First.
Jaishankar’s visit is testimony to the importance that India attaches to its close and friendly relations with the Maldives and Sri Lanka, the External Affairs Ministry reiterated.