Sushma calls on Lankan Prez Sirisena, discusses ties

RSTV Bureau
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Colombo. Courtesy Twitter

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Colombo. Courtesy: Twitter

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo on Saturday morning. Both leaders discussed the outcome of the joint committee meet which covered a range of bilateral issues like straying fishermen, and cooperation in economy, aviation, defence and trade.

Swaraj also inaugurated the ‘Rise of Digital India’ exhibition as part of the ‘Sangam’ festival of India in Sri Lanka 2015-2016.

The exhibition showcases the rise of the computing  and digital technologies in India under PM Modi’s flagship Digital India programme.

Speaking at the inaugural Swaraj said that Sri Lanka is keen on developing the IT sector as part of their effort of developing their service sector.

“We are ready to set up an Information Technology Park in Sri Lanka that could attract investments in this important sector, and both sides agreed to explore this issue further,” Swaraj said.

Sushma Swaraj also met leaders of Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party TNA led by its chief R Sampanthan. Sampanthan briefed her about the efforts made by the government in moving forward the reconciliation process with the minority community.

“Tamil National Alliance leaders expressed readiness to work with the government in fulfilling the aspirations of the people of Sri Lanka,” said Y K Sinha Indian High Commissioner to Colombo.

Yesterday, Swaraj co-chaired the 9th Indo-Lanka Joint Commission meet with her Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera. Both countries agreed to find an “innovative and lasting solution” to the fishermen issue. The two sides also agreed that Sri Lankan fisheries minister Mahinda Amaraweera would travel to India to hold talks to resolve the issue.

“There was an agreement that we need to find an innovative and lasting solution to this issue,” said External Affairs Ministry Joint Secretary Renu Pall.

The two sides also discussed plans to enhance cooperation in aeronautical research and use of Indian satellite system ‘Gagan’ by Sri Lanka.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Colombo. Courtesy Twitter

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Colombo. Courtesy: Twitter

MoUs in the field of education and health sectors were signed by both leaders. India also extended support to Lanka on completing its housing project. Officials said India has already helped in the construction of 44,000 houses in Northern Lanka and work on 4,000 more houses will begin soon.

Before attending the Joint meet Sushma called on Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday and offered partnership in setting up a Special Economic Zone in Sri Lanka.

During their 50-minute long meeting, the Prime Minister sought Indian investment in Sri Lanka and proposed partnership in setting up of an SEZ in Trincomalee, officials said.

Swaraj, who is on a two-day visit to Lanka, arrived in Colombo on Friday afternoon and was received by her Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera at the airport lounge. This is Swaraj’s second visit to Lanka in a year.

( With inputs from PTI)