Sri Lanka eager to welcome PM Modi: President Sirisena

Srilankan President Maithripala Sirisena with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Bilateral Meeting with BIMSTEC Nations at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Friday.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the first major foreign dignitary to visit Sri Lanka following the Easter bombings, announced President Maithripala Sirisena here on Friday.

Addressing a press conference, the Sri Lankan leader sought a joint front to defeat terrorism and announced the date of the national election. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Sri Lanka on June 9. Sri Lanka has recovered from painful terror attacks. We have maintained peace and stability in the country in the aftermath of the Easter bombings,” said President Sirisena urging regional and global strategies to defeat terrorism.

Likely to visit Maldives

According to available information, Mr. Modi is expected to travel to Maldives in the first week of June and Mr. Sirisena confirmed that Sri Lanka will be the second foreign destination of the Indian leader.

“We are eagerly looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi,” he said. He thanked India for supporting Sri Lankan investigations into the Easter suicide attacks and urged for a global fight against terrorism.

Mr. Sirisena was one of the BIMSTEC leaders invited to participate in the swearing-in ceremony of Mr. Modi and his Council of Ministers.

The visiting leader announced that the political process of Sri Lanka will not be interrupted by the terror attacks and subsequent social tension.

“Elections in Sri Lanka will be held on December 9. None of the political parties, both the ruling and those in the Opposition, have decided upon the names of the candidates. Therefore I am not in a hurry either,” said Mr. Sirisena assuring that his government will ensure stability in the poll-bound country and prevent any backlash against the Muslim community, which has faced violence in recent weeks after the Easter attacks.

The April 21 attacks that killed at least 253 and injured hundreds were among the worst that the country had witnessed in recent years after the end of the war against the Tamil Tigers in 2009. Indian security agencies had shared advance information about the attacks but Mr. Sirisena acknowledged officials in his country had failed to act on the input.

“I was in Singapore at the time of the attacks. A clear report was sent by Indian agencies on 4 April to Sri Lanka. I left on 16 April. However none of the defence chiefs informed me about the intelligence warnings from India,” said the visiting President, promising necessary disciplinary action against those found negligent.

Investigation into the attacks showed that the suicide bombers and the support group came from wealthy sections of Sri Lankan society. Mr. Sirisena said the perpetrators did not visit India during plotting of the attacks. “The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks. But I have not received any report from my officials informing that the bombers had visited India.”

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 9:59:25 AM |

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