External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar will be visiting Maldives and Sri Lanka for bilateral meetings and the signing of several agreements.
Dr Jaishankar's visit to Colombo comes at a time when the island nation is facing a massive economic crisis, with power blackouts and shortage of essential goods leading to protests. The situation is driving its nationals to seek refuge in India.
A statement from the ministry said Dr Jaishankar will visit Addu in Maldives this weekend on the invitation of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives, Abdulla Shahid.
"EAM would be visiting Addu city in Maldives (26-27 March), during which EAM will call on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and hold discussions with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid. EAM's visit will see the signing of several agreements related to the bilateral development cooperation, inauguration/handing-over and launch of a number of key India-supported projects that will contribute to the socio-economic development of the Maldives and enhance its security," the statement said.
It added that the External Affairs Minister's visit to Sri Lanka on the invitation of his counterpart G L Peiris will take place next week.
"EAM's visit to Sri Lanka (28-30 March) follows the visits to India by Minister of Finance of Sri Lanka, H.E. Mr. Basil Rajapaksa in December 2021 and earlier this month and that of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Prof. G.L.Peiris in February 2022. The bilateral meetings and interactions which EAM will have in Sri Lanka highlight the priority that the Sri Lanka occupies for India," the ministry said.
Dr Jaishankar will participate in the Ministerial Meeting of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in Colombo on Tuesday.
The ministry said Maldives and Sri Lanka are India's key maritime neighbours in the Indian Ocean Region and occupy a "special place in Prime Minister's vision of 'SAGAR' and Neighbourhood First". "EAM's visit is testimony to the importance that India attaches to its close and friendly relations with the Maldives and Sri Lanka," it said.