Sunday 26th of March 2023

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India is a reliable partner who is prepared to go the extra mile when needed, EAM Jaishankar said

2023-01-20 6078


India will encourage greater investments in the Sri Lankan economy, especially in the core areas like energy, tourism and infrastructure, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday.

In a press statement in Colombo on the second day of his visit to the country, he said that Sri Lanka’s pathway is one of a strong economic recovery propelled by greater investments.

"We count on the Government of Sri Lanka to provide a more business-friendly environment to create a powerful pull factor," EAM Jaishankar said.

Last year, India extended about US $ 4 billion in terms of credits and roll overs to help Sri Lanka get through an economic crisis. "For us, it was an issue of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and not leaving a partner to fend for themselves," EAM Jaishankar remarked.

He added that Sri Lanka’s creditors must now take proactive steps to facilitate its recovery.

India has already extended financing assurances to the IMF to clear the way for Sri Lanka to move forward. "Our expectation is that this will not only strengthen Sri Lanka’s position but ensure that all bilateral creditors are dealt with equally," he explained.

Pointing out that it was essential that India and Sri Lanka steady their trade, he explained that the use of rupee settlement for trade was in the mutual interest of the two countries.

He also described strengthening connectivity and promoting travel as a "very high priority". Encouraging Indian tourists to make RuPay payments and utilize UPI would be helpful in this regard, he said.

He added that Indian tourists were expressing their positive sentiments for Sri Lanka in a very very practical manner by coming here.

Listing energy security as one of Sri Lanka’s most serious challenges, he said the country has enormous renewable energy potential that can become a sustainable source of revenue.

"It has the capability as well for Trincomalee to emerge as an energy hub. In its support for Sri Lanka, India is prepared to be a reliable partner on such initiatives. We have today agreed in-principle on a renewable energy framework that would take this cooperation forward," he said.

EAM Jaishankar also underlined that "India is a reliable neighbour, a trustworthy partner, one who is prepared to go the extra mile when Sri Lanka feels the need".

He added that his presence in Colombo was a statement about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to ‘Neighbourhood First’. "We will stand by Sri Lanka in this hour of need and are confident that Sri Lanka will overcome the challenges that it currently faces," EAM Jaishankar emphasised.

"My primary purpose of coming to Colombo at this time is to express India’s solidarity with Sri Lanka during these difficult moments," he stated.

'India supports Sri Lanka's political, economic stability '

During his visit, EAM Jaishankar also called on President Ranil Wickremesinghe and handed over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to visit India at an early date to discuss how their partnership can facilitate Sri Lanka’s strong recovery.

During the meeting, EAM Jaishankar pointed out that India has always supported both the political and economic stability of Sri Lanka.

"The President briefed me on the question of political devolution and his thinking. I shared with him our considered view that the full implementation of the 13th amendment and early conduct of provincial elections are critical in this regard. Durable efforts towards reconciliation are in the interests of all sections in Sri Lanka," he said.

During his meeting with President Wikremasinghe, he also spoke of the need to pay special attention to the requirements of the Indian origin Tamil community.

Later, EAM Jaishankar met Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

"Pleased to meet Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena in Colombo today. Discussed our bilateral cooperation including in transport and education. Also exchanged views on intensifying people to people relations," he wrote on Twitter.

On the first day of his visit on Thursday, EAM Jaishankar met his counterpart Foreign Minister Ali Sabry and other ministerial colleagues.

"A good meeting with Foreign Minister Ali Sabry and other ministerial colleagues this evening in Colombo. Discussed India-Sri Lanka cooperation in infrastructure, connectivity, energy, industry and health," he tweeted.