Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday embarked on a four-day state visit to India where he would hold talks with the top Indian leadership on a number of key areas including trade, defence and maritime security cooperation.
The visit, beginning February 7, is the Rajapaksa senior’s first overseas trip since his brother Gotabaya was elected President in November.
Prime Minister Mahinda left for India on a four-day state visit on the invitation of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, Daily Mirror newspaper reported.
He will have meetings with President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
“The scheduled meetings will build on the strong relationship that already exists between the two countries,” Mahinda’s office said in a statement on Thursday.
Mahinda hopes to finalise the implementation of the USD 450 million line of credit pledged by Prime Minister Modi to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his visit to New Delhi in November, according to the statement.
“With the aim of enhancing engagement in sub-regional maritime security cooperation, the two delegations are expected to discuss key areas under the defence and maritime security initiatives that include the Sri Lanka-India annual defence dialogue and the trilateral maritime security cooperation with India and the Maldives,” it said.
Rajapaksa also intends to visit the religious sites of Varanasi, Sarnath, Bodhgaya and Tirupathi, it said.
Two Tamil ministers in the Rajapaksa government — Douglas Devananda from the north and Armugam Thondaman from the central tea plantation districts — are expected to be in the 10-member delegation, the statement added.