Prime Minister Narendra Modi sets off on Tuesday on a five-day tour of Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka that is expected to give traction to the country’s Indian Ocean outreach during which he will also visit a former war zone and Tamil heartland of Jaffna.
As PM Modi visits Sri Lanka on March 13-14 on the third and final leg of his tour, Indian officials said today that New Delhi is looking forward to a solution to the “humanitarian” issue of its fishermen’s rights amid controversial remarks by Lankan Premier Ranil Wickramasinghe.
PM Narendra Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Jaffna where he will hand over homes built with the help of Indian assistance. An Indian Prime Minister is also visiting the island nation after a gap of 28 years since late Rajiv Gandhi last visited the country in 1987.
Some 20,000 such homes were built in Jaffna described by India as “a flagship cooperation project currently in Sri Lanka”.
Asked at a news conference about the controversy over Wickramasinghe’s remarks that Indian fishermen may be shot if they intruded into his country’s waters, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had taken up the matter with the premier during her meeting with him in Colombo last Saturday.
Jaishankar also said that India is working with Sri Lanka’s new government to repatriate nearly one lakh Tamil refugees who fled to Tamil Nadu during the civil war.
“We had agreed when Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister was here (in New Delhi) in January to find ways by which these refugees could go back with honour, dignity, safety,” he said.
PM Modi, who will also address Sri Lankan Parliament during his visit, will be only the second foreign leader after British Premier David Cameron to visit Jaffna in the Northern province.
On the first day of his visit to Lanka on Friday, PM Modi will hold summit talks with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena who was in India last month on his first foreign trip after assuming office.
“I embark on my visit to Sri Lanka with joy & the confidence that the visit will make India-SL relations even stronger in the years to come,” PM Modi tweeted yesterday about his three-nation visit.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be travelling to Jaffna on March 14 after a trip to Anuradhapura, a sacred Buddhist city steeped in the richness of the Sinhalese civilisation and Talaimannar where he will flag a train.
In Seychelles, the Indian Prime Minister will hold bilateral talks with President James Alexis Michel on Wednesday in a bid to strengthen maritime security and bilateral development cooperation. He is due to reach Seychelles tomorrow night.
He will be the second Indian Prime Minister to visit the strategic island nation which has a population of 92,000 after Indira Gandhi had travelled there in 1981.
PM Modi will head to Mauritius on the second leg of his trip on Wednesday afternoon.
He will hold talks with Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth and address Mauritian parliament. The Prime Minister will also be the Chief Guest at Mauritius’s 42nd National Day celebrations.