Sirisena visit expected to boost ties

February 06, 2015 02:02 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:28 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.

The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday announced that Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena will pay a four-day state visit to India starting February 15.

This is his first trip abroad after he was elected President in the recent elections, Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said on Thursday.

Ties between the two nations soured under the previous government in Sri Lanka, which leaned towards China. The new President is considered more balanced and the visit is expected to boost ties with India.

“President Sirisena spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and had indicated his desire to undertake an early visit to India,” said Mr. Akbaruddin.

After official engagements on February 16, the visiting President is expected to travel to places of religious interest outside Delhi, which include Bodh Gaya and perhaps Tirumala.

Singapore President coming

Skill development and green cities will be the focus of discussions during the visit of President Tony Tan Keng Yam to India from February 8 to 11. The visit is part of the 50th anniversary commemoration celebrations started in August last year. Singapore is setting up a skill development institute in Delhi and India has requested a similar institute in the North East.

11 Indian nurses evacuated

Eleven Indian nurses have been evacuated to safety from the conflict zone in Kirkuk in Iraq to Erbil.

“They are now safe in Erbil,” said Mr. Akbaruddin and Indian officials were working out the modalities for their return. All of them belong to Kerala and they will be flown to India soon.

The External Affairs Minister had spoken to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to apprise him of the developments. In July last year 46 nurses taken captive by the IS in Iraq were freed after deft diplomatic moves by India.

Nuclear liability

Mr. Akbaruddin refuted apprehensions that the workaround on nuclear liability reached with the U.S. would penalise reactor operators in the event of an accident. “When we arrived at an understanding with the U.S. we did so within the four corners of our law, international practice and our own bilateral agreements that we have agreed to,” he said.

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