India today pledged a $ 15 million loan to Sri Lanka for the promotion of Buddhist culture between the two countries. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a virtual bilateral meeting with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 26 September, the two countries entered the pact.
Sri Lanka will use these $ 15 million to renovate Buddhist monasteries, promote the shared Buddhist heritage between the two nations. The money will support the Buddhist clergy too.
India is considering Sri Lanka’s request for a $ 1.1 billion bilateral currency swap. New Delhi is discussing the issue of deferring the debt repayments by Colombo too.
During the summit, Modi and Rajapaksa discussed trade ties between the two countries. Prime Minister Modi conveyed to Sri Lanka’s president that he hoped Colombo would relax temporary restrictions on import of some Indian products.
India has proposed the launching of a bilateral air bubble with Sri Lanka for travel between the two countries.
Both nations agreed also to sign memoranda of understanding on certain high-impact community development projects over the course of the next five years.
In his address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that under India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, India was prioritising its relationship with Sri Lanka. “The relations between India and Sri Lanka are thousands of years old. According to my government’s neighbourhood first policy and SAGAR doctrine, we give special priority to relations between the two countries,” he said.
Modi requested Rajapaksa to look into the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils As a part of reconciliation efforts, he said, it would ensure the government works towards realising their expectations.
The Indian prime minister kept the people abreast with his talks with the Sri Lankan president by tweeting in Sinhala and Tamil languages. “It is a pleasure to speak with my dear Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. We reviewed India-Sri Lanka bilateral relations, including development cooperation, economic relations, tourism, education, culture and other regional and international issues of mutual interest (translated),” Modi wrote in Sinhala.
In Tamil, the prime minister wrote, “I am delighted to have my friend Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa speak to them. We reviewed unique Indo-Sri Lankan bilateral relations, including development, economic relations, tourism, education, culture, and regional & international issues of mutual interest (translated).”