Modi, Wickremesinghe focus on challenges in Indian Ocean amid China’s aggression


Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Friday held wide-ranging talks with visiting Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe. The two leaders focused largely on boosting economic and strategic cooperation between India and Sri Lanka. PM Modi and the Sri Lankan President also took a comprehensive stock assessment of challenges in the Indian Ocean amid China’s attempts to increase its activities and influence in the region. Sources told The Daily Guardian that President Wickremesinghe shared his perspective on the challenges in the region. PM Modi also gave his suggestions and inputs related to what needs to be done by the two countries to deal with these challenges as a result of China’s activities, sources added.
According to sources, Wickremesinghe reaffirmed Colombo’s commitment to working with New Delhi in the area of maritime security with China in mind. Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said the bilateral talk between India and Sri Lanka focused not only on the opportunities but also on the challenges faced by both countries in the maritime domain. Asked if Chinese movement in the Indian Ocean came up during the bilateral talks between PM Modi and President Wickremesinghe, Kwatra said, “We are neighbours. We have a long-standing and comprehensive relationship, and it is natural to speak about their concerns.”
“When India and Sri Lanka sit, they don’t only talk of opportunities that exist in economic partnership in the maritime domain but they also take a comprehensive stock assessment of the challenges they face in the maritime domain. These challenges were brought up appropriately during the discussion,” Kwatra said. The Foreign Secretary also informed that PM Modi at the joint press briefing after meeting with Wickremesinghe stated that aspects related to India’s security and sensitivity were discussed.
Diplomatic sources told The Daily Guardian that the Sri Lankan President “conveyed to PM Modi that Colombo respects and takes care of security and strategic sensitive concerns relating to what happens to New Delhi’s maritime domain”. “Our challenges are in many ways shared challenges. Both sides will
Continue to monitor developments, naturally closely consulting that has a bearing on the security of India and Sri Lanka,” the FS said.
Sources told this newspaper that the Indian side brought up the issues related to China’s growing activities which are aimed at ramping up influence in Sri Lanka. Beijing’s activities with respect to specific projects were highlighted by the Indian diplomats during talks with the Sri Lankan counterparts, sources said. Measures were discussed by the officials of Sri Lanka and India to tackle this problem jointly.
During their bilateral discussions, President Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Modi focused on promoting mutually beneficial cooperation across various sectors and strengthening connectivity between the two nations. The leaders also discussed the importance of Sri Lanka in India’s neighbourhood-first policy and Vision SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region). The meeting also resulted in a notable agreement on the acceptance of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in Sri Lanka, reflecting the global expansion of UPI. “The Agreement signed to launch UPI in Sri Lanka will increase Fintech connectivity,” PM Modi said.
Moreover, the two countries announced plans to conduct feasibility studies on a petroleum line and land bridge connectivity, further bolstering economic ties. President Wickremesinghe’s visit also included a meeting with Indian President Droupadi Murmu and discussions with other Indian dignitaries. NSA Ajit Doval also called on Wickremesinghe and discussed with him the security issues and challenges in the region.
The MEA underscored the significance of Sri Lanka as a significant partner in India’s neighbourhood-first policy and Vision SAGAR, emphasising that the visit will further solidify the two nations’ long-standing friendship and explore opportunities for improved connectivity and mutually advantageous cooperation across various sectors.
PM Modi also expressed hope that the Sri Lankan government will fulfill the long-standing aspirations of the Tamils and uphold its commitment to the minority community in the country. The Prime Minister made the remarks in front of the Sri Lankan President. Delivering a joint address alongside Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister laid stress on the India-backed 13th amendment and the holding of the provincial council election in Sri Lanka. “We hope that the Government of Sri Lanka will fulfill the aspirations of the Tamils. Will take forward the process of reconciliation for equality, justice, and peace,” PM Modi said.
“As we are celebrating 75 years of our diplomatic ties, the Indian-origin Tamil community in Sri Lanka is completing 200 years. On this occasion, I am happy to say that a number of projects are being undertaken for them,” he added.