Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will visit India next week to set the agenda for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Colombo in May, The Hindu newspaper reported.
“The visit of the PM of Sri Lanka to India from 25 April is part of our continuing engagement with the Government of Sri Lanka at the highest level,” an MEA spokesperson said, announcing the visit.
Officials said a MoU to develop Trincomalee port’s prospects through operating a major oil-storage facility, LNG plant and piped-gas projects and developing it as a key transit point with major expressways and industrial zones in the region is in the final stages of negotiations.
The two sides will also hold discussions on the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA), a version of the Free Trade Agreement, and will be taken forward during Modi’s visit for International Vesak Day, the annual Buddhist festival on 12 May, officials told The Hindu.
Wickremesinghe, who frequently travels to India, is understood to be visiting India for a private visit from 25 to 29 April, to attend a wedding, but will spend 26 April in Delhi for official meetings.
Modi will host a lunch for him, while External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari will call on him, officials said.
Wickremesinghe’s visit is also significant as it comes a few weeks before his trip to Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Summit that Sri Lanka has joined.
While Chinese companies have already clinched many important infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka, including the Hambantota and Colombo Port development projects, India is hopeful of more projects in the north and the east of the island.
Apart from the economic agenda, Wickremesinghe is expected to discuss the ongoing dispute over fishing rights in the Palk Strait with Swaraj. Despite several rounds of negotiations between the fishing communities of the two countries, Indian fishermen continue to be apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy for trespassing in their waters.
In the latest case in early April, six men claiming to be fishermen were also arrested for smuggling drugs by Sri Lankan forces, the latest flashpoint in the series of arrests that saw 10 men arrested on 21 March and 12 arrested on 25 March.
Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi will be attending the opening ceremony of the new Dikoya Base Hospital on May 12, during his visit to Sri Lanka for the UN Vesak Day celebrations, State Minister of Education V. Radhakrishnan says.
Radhakrishnan stated this after a special discussion about Modi’s arrival in the hill country, held at the Norwood Ground on Thursday.
Minister of Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development Palani Digambaram, security personnel in the area, state officials and a delegation from India were also present.
The new hospital complex of Dikoya, Hatton, was built with donations from the Government of India. Ministers Palani and Radhakrishnan stated that Prime Minister Modi would be attending a special gathering of the plantation community at the Norwood Ground, after declaring the Dikoya Base Hospital open.
President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and many other ministers will also be attending this public gathering, sources revealed. During the Prime Minister’s visit, it is expected that India will take up the fishermen issue and China’s growing influence in the island with Sri Lanka, according to a PTI report. Modi’s visit will come after his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe’s arrival to India on 25 April.
Wickremesinghe will be on a five-day visit during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Modi to further expand ties in a range of areas and find a solution to the vexed fishermen issue. “The Prime Minister will have a luncheon meeting with Ranil Wickremesinghe on 26 April,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Gopal Baglay said.