In a sign of a closer strategic partnership between Sri Lanka’s new government and India, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded a civil nuclear cooperation agreement on Monday, which is Sri Lanka’s first nuclear partnership with any country.
Calling the bilateral agreement on civil nuclear cooperation “another demonstration of our mutual trust,” Mr. Modi said India and Sri Lanka had also agreed to expand defence and strategic cooperation, including a “trilateral format” with the Maldives.
Mr. Modi is expected to visit Colombo in mid-March, and sources told The Hindu that he was likely to include Male in his itinerary.
Officials on both sides said the agreement on nuclear cooperation was an initial one and would not lead to the construction of nuclear energy reactors immediately. According to an official release, the agreement “would facilitate cooperation in the transfer and exchange of knowledge and expertise, sharing of resources, capacity building and training of personnel in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including use of radioisotopes, nuclear safety, radiation safety, nuclear security, radioactive waste management and nuclear and radiological disaster mitigation and environmental protection.”
India, Sri Lanka sign three pacts
Calling his visit to New Delhi a “remarkable milestone” in taking India-Sri Lanka relations to a “greater height,” President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday expressed satisfaction that the visit had “borne very fruitful results.”
Mr. Sirisena and Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed the signing of three agreements on agricultural cooperation, a memorandum of understanding on Nalanda University and an agreement on cultural cooperation. On the conflict between Tamil fishermen from India accused of trespassing into Sri Lankan waters, Mr. Modi said a solution must be found by the fishermen’s associations of both countries as it affected the livelihood of people in both countries.
“We agreed that there must be a constructive and humanitarian approach to the issue,” he added.
While there was no direct mention of talks between the two leaders over devolution of powers to the Northern and Eastern provinces or on the reconciliation process for Tamils after the 2009 anti-LTTE war, sources said “all aspects of bilateral importance were discussed.”