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India-Sri lanka Relations: Sirisena's visit

Modi did not have trump cards to play with Mahinda, other than offering him some carrots to dance to the Indian melody. The only trump card available to New Delhi to pressurize Colombo appeared lost due to the weak foreign policy of the previous congress government. 

 

India's Ocean Policy has already got off to a flying start from the landlocked New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-hour delegation level talks with the visiting Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena in New Delhi on 16 February was the first big step in this direction and the next giant stride will be taken about three weeks later when Modi embarks on his four-nation tour of Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius.

 

Having electorally trounced India's long-time nemesis, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sirisena will get prime minister Narendra Modi's fullest attention as the best leader India could have asked for in the teardrop island lying at the heart of the Indian Ocean. 

 

The stage for the four-day visit is set with Sri Lanka deciding to release 87 Indian trawlers in its custody and India letting off 22 Lankan fishing boats amid hopes of an early resolution on the issue of illegal poaching in each other’s territorial waters.

 

India is expected to announce increased development assistance to Sri Lanka during the first visit of its new President Maithripala Sirisena in a measure to strengthen ties with his month-old government. 

 

In his maiden foreign trip after assuming office, Sri Lanka’s new President Maithripala Sirisena arrived in Delhi Sunday on a four-day visit seeking a new beginning in bilateral ties that took a hit during the rule of his predecessor.

 

The entire India-Sri Lanka relationship, however, soured post-2009 when Sri Lanka went back on promises for devolution, and even more so, tilted heavily towards China. That tilt was not particularly nuanced and used quite brazenly as a bulwark against Indian hegemony. India hit back supporting the US-backed human rights resolution at the UNHRC in Geneva. 

 

At the start of a new dawn in the island nation last month, the government of Sirisena gave every impression that it was keen on re-opening a new phase of ties with New Delhi that had certainly been ruptured during the days of president Mahinda Rajapaksa writes Dr. Sridhar Krishnaswami

 

When Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena holds talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his upcoming visit to India,  repatriation of Lankan Tamil refugees from Tamil Nadu;  resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Lanka; and kick starting the long-delayed Indo-Lankan power project at Sampur in the Eastern Province will be on top of the agenda.

 
Sri Lanka’s newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena is expected to visit India next week. This will be his first foreign visit as President, and he is expected to arrive in New Delhi on 16 February. During the visit by Sri Lanka’s new President Sirisena, India must ensure that it enjoys the most favoured treatment, by keeping the Chinese dragon, preferred by former President Rajapakse, at bay!    
 


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