Sri Lankan PM to hold talks with Modi today; focus on pending projects
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wikremesinghe met National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on Friday, ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Wikremesinghe met Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and party leaders Sonia Gandhi and Anand Sharma.
After the meeting, Mr. Gandhi said on social media that he welcomed the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, highlighting the “historical and cultural ties” between the two countries.
According to officials present at the meet, Mr. Wikremesinghe and Mr. Gandhi discussed bilateral ties, recent international developments, as well as the “political scenario” in both countries.
Mr. Wikremesinghe’s three-day official visit comes on the heels of a political controversy breaking out in Sri Lanka over comments reportedly made by President Maithripala Sirisena on the need for investigating a possible link between an assassination plot against him allegedly by an Indian national and Indian intelligence agencies, and although the Sri Lankan government has denied blaming India in any way for the plot, the issue is likely to be prominent during Mr. Wikremesinghe’s visit.
On the agenda for the talks on Saturday are a slew of Indian proposals for projects that still await clearance in Sri Lanka, including port projects in Colombo, an LNG terminal, an oil storage facility in Trincomalee, as well as a proposed joint venture to run the Mattala airport near Hambantota over which there is considerable confusion. The revised version of the India-Sri Lanka preferential trade treaty, the Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA), which was first proposed by Mr. Wikremesinghe, has also made little progress despite the Prime Minister announcing it would be completed in 2016. Officials said all the pending projects would be discussed, although no MoUs or agreements were expected to be signed on Saturday.
Mr. Wikremesinghe will begin the day with a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, following which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will call on him. He will meet Mr. Modi for talks followed by lunch, and then will leave for Colombo on Saturday evening.