Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka over the coming weekend, defence sources confirmed. The visit comes at a time when the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry is considering a fresh request from China to allow the visit of a research ship.
The Defence Minister is scheduled to go on a two-day visit to the island nation, two defence sources confirmed. As per Sri Lankan media reports, Mr. Singh is expected to visit Trincomalee where India is jointly investing in the joint development of Oil Tank farm, under an agreement signed in January 2022.
Last week, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry acknowledged receiving a request from the Chinese Embassy. The research vessel Shiyan-6 is expected to arrive in October. This request comes shortly after a Chinese warship docked at the Colombo Port from August 10 to August 12, exactly a year after the visit of a Chinese vessel ‘Yuan Wang-5’ caused a major diplomatic showdown between New Delhi and Colombo.
Entry into Indian Ocean Region
Later in November, another vessel ‘Yuan Wang-6’ had entered Indian Ocean Region coinciding with a planned Indian long range missile launch but the launch was then deferred and the vessel had re-entered the IOR in December when the missile test was rescheduled.
Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal V. R. Chaudhari was on an official visit to the island nation in May. During the visit, he donated AN-32 transport aircraft propellers to Commander of Sri Lanka Air Force at Katunayake Air Base.
Meanwhile, on August 15, Indian Envoy to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay ceremonially handed over the Indian Navy Dornier aircraft to the Sri Lankan Air Force, a year after the first was handed over, following Sri Lanka’s request in 2018 for two Dornier Reconnaissance Aircraft to enhance the maritime surveillance capabilities of the island nation. “The induction of state-of-the-art Indian Navy Dornier Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft would exponentially increase the surveillance capability of Sri Lanka and would be force multiplier for the Sri Lanka Air Force,” the Indian High Commission said in a statement.
In June, the Indian mission organised the first India-Sri Lanka Defence Seminar and Exhibition in Colombo to “promote and identify” newer areas of cooperation and collaboration between the two countries in the defence sector.
Last year, the neighbours signed two pacts for Sri Lanka to receive a floating Dock Facility from the Government of India “at no cost” and the provision of “Dornier Reconnaissance Aircraft” by India to Sri Lanka “free of charge”. While neither side had officially announced the signing of the deals, a media clarification by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence brought the development to light.