Indian foreign secretary to start four-day visit to Sri Lanka 2 October

In a bid to take stock of bilateral ties and clear any misunderstandings, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will begin a four-day visit to Sri Lanka on Saturday to "take stock of the overall ties and review the progress of certain ongoing bilateral projects"

Oct 01, 2021
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Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla

In a bid to take stock of bilateral ties and clear any misunderstandings, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will begin a four-day visit to Sri Lanka on Saturday to "take stock of the overall ties and review the progress of certain ongoing bilateral projects". The visit comes at a time when the island nation is having both food as well as forex crisis.

In a statement on Friday, India’s External Affairs Ministry (MEA) said, “At the invitation of the Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka Admiral Jayanath Colombage, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will pay an official visit to Sri Lanka from October 2 to 5.”

The statement further added, “Sri Lanka occupies a central place in India's ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. (The) Foreign Secretary's visit signifies the importance both the countries attach to strengthening their close and cordial relations in all spheres of mutual interest.”

The MEA said Shringla's visit will provide an opportunity to review “our bilateral ties, the progress of ongoing bilateral projects and ongoing cooperation to tackle Covid-related disruptions”.

Significantly, it will be the first high-profile visit by any senior Indian official after Colombo unilaterally canceled the 2019 tripartite agreement on the East Container Terminal Port which strained the ties between the two nations. 

Also, the visit comes days after Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris met and held discussions in New York City on the sideline of the UNGA annual session. 

Currently, Colombo has been going through a serious economic and forex crisis. And, a senior Lankan minister had even recently said they won’t have enough to pay for fuel and gas in next month. 

Earlier this week, Sri Lankan foreign ministry confirmed they were in talks with India regarding a $500 million credit line facility. Similar talks are also happening with the UAE for concessional oil purchases. 

(SAM)