Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe to visit India tomorrow

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit marks his first India trip since assuming office, to meet President Droupadi Murmu and PM Narendra Modi

| Updated: 19 July, 2023 9:45 pm IST
Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe

NEW DELHI: After showing signs of recovery from a major financial crisis, the President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, is set to visit India on an official visit on July 20th, 2023.

This visit marks President Wickremesinghe’s first trip to India since assuming his current responsibilities.

At the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Wickremesinghe will engage in discussions with Indian dignitaries on a range of issues of mutual interest. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the President will meet President Droupadi Murmu and hold talks with Prime Minister Modi during his visit.

“At the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, will visit India on an official visit on July 21, 2023. During his visit, President Wickremesinghe will also meet President Droupadi Murmu and hold discussions with the Prime Minister and other Indian dignitaries on a range of issues of mutual interest,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.

President Wickremesinghe is scheduled to arrive in the national capital on July 20th at around 5 pm. Later that evening, at around 7.30 pm, he will meet with External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the Hotel ITC Maurya.

On July 21st, the President will have a meeting with Prime Minister Modi at 11 am at Hyderabad House, followed by an Exchange of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and press statements. In the afternoon, around 5 pm, President Wickremesinghe will meet his counterpart, President Droupadi Murmu, at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Sri Lanka, with a population of 22 million, has been facing significant challenges since gaining independence from Britain in 1948. The island nation recently experienced its worst-ever financial and economic crisis. During this time, India has been a crucial partner, extending assistance to Sri Lanka with nearly $4 billion, including lines of credit for food, fuel, and medicine purchases, currency support, and deferred loan payments. India was among the first countries to provide aid to Sri Lanka.

ALSO READ: Sri Lanka thanks India for stabilising economy with generous support

Over the past year, India has provided approximately $4 billion in credits and rollovers to help Sri Lanka navigate its economic crisis. This support aligns with Prime Minister Modi’s Neighbourhood First policy, emphasising India’s commitment to standing with its neighbours in times of need.

During a visit to Sri Lanka in January, India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, expressed solidarity with the nation, highlighting the importance of the Neighbourhood First approach.

“My primary purpose of coming to Colombo at this time is to express India’s solidarity with Sri Lanka during these difficult moments. For us, it was an issue of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and not leaving a partner to fend for themselves,” Dr Jaishankar had said.

“We felt strongly that Sri Lanka’s creditors must take proactive steps to facilitate its recovery. India decided not to wait on others but to do what we believed was right. We extended financing assurances to the IMF to clear the way for Sri Lanka to move forward. We expect that this will not only strengthen Sri Lanka’s position but also ensure that all bilateral creditors are dealt with equally,” he said.

ALSO READ: EAM Dr S Jaishankar reaches crisis-hit Sri Lanka

Dr Jaishankar’s visit held particular significance as it was the first meeting after Sri Lanka’s new government was formed, focusing on debt restructuring talks.

Sri Lanka is an essential partner in India’s Neighbourhood First Policy and Vision SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region). The visit by President Wickremesinghe is expected to strengthen the longstanding friendship between the two countries and explore avenues for enhanced connectivity and mutually beneficial cooperation across sectors.

“The visit will reinforce the longstanding friendship between the two countries and explore avenues for enhanced connectivity and mutually beneficial cooperation across sectors,” MEA said of President Wickremesinghe’s visit.

With a relationship spanning over 2,500 years, India and Sri Lanka share a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious, and linguistic interactions. Both countries have witnessed growth in trade, investment, and cooperation in the development, education, culture and defence sectors.

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