New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi showered praises on the Sri Lankan government on his arrival in the nation on Friday, in appreciation of the new government’s swift actions to address New Delhi’s concerns over Colombo’s pro-China tilt.
Modi reached out to Colombo by offering a line of credit of up to $318 million for the railway sector, a currency swap agreement of $1.5 billion by RBI to stablise the local currency and help in establishing a regional petroleum hub. India favoured a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity for Tamils in the government’s new journey of peace and reconciliation, he said A little over a week after the Maithiripala Sirisena government temporarily suspended $1.5 billion worth Colombo Port City Project funded by China, Modi tried to win Lankan hearts by extending Visa on Arrival scheme to Sri Lankan citizens from April 14.
Following the civil war and terror threat, Lankans were bracketed with countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen and Somalia while applying for visa. Air India will soon start direct flights between New Delhi and Colombo. Currently, Sri Lankan Airlines run a daily Delhi-Colombo flight.
Modi’s visit was fourth highranking visit between the two countries since the change of guard in Lanka in January that allowed Delhi to work with Colombo across sectors work on which was stalled under the Rajapaksa regime, according to sources. Pointing out that India is privileged to be a development partner for Sri Lanka, Modi announced that Delhi will provide a fresh Line of Credit of up to $ 318 million for the railways sector.
India’s total financial support to Lanka — past Line of Credit (essentially for railway infrastructure), Exim Bank support, private investments and grants—exceeds that of China which was primarily given during the Rajapaksa regime.