Sri Lanka’s newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will visit New Delhi on November 29, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said after meeting him here on Tuesday evening.
Mr. Gotabaya’s visit to New Delhi, his likely first trip abroad as President, comes months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Colombo in a goodwill gesture following the deadly Easter Sunday attacks.
“President @GotabayaR has accepted PM @narendramodi ’s invitation to visit India on 29th November,” Mr. Jaishankar tweeted soon after the meeting.
In another tweet, Mr. Jaishankar said: “A warm meeting with Sri Lanka President @GotabayaR. Conveyed PM @narendramodi’s message of a partnership for shared peace, progress, prosperity & security. Confident that under his leadership, #IndiaSriLanka relations would reach greater heights.”
Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu was also present at the meeting.
Mr. Modi was among the first international leaders to congratulate Mr. Gotabaya, on Twitter and on the phone, after his decisive victory in the November 16 election. Replying to Mr. Modi on Twitter, Mr. Gotabaya said he looked forward to meeting him in “the near future”.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih were among the regional leaders who wished the new President, who won with 52. 25% of the vote, riding on his promise to revive the economy and enhance national security, a concern for many Sri Lankans after the bombings.
Mr. Rajapaksa is well-known in South Block from his earlier stint as Defence Secretary under his brother and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. During the final years of Sri Lanka’s civil war, he was part of a “troika” — with his other brother Basil Rajapaksa and senior bureaucrat Lalith Weeratunga — that held regular discussions with a team of senior officials in New Delhi.