Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Sri Lanka on his way back to India from Maldives where he was on his first overseas trip after getting elected as Prime Minister for a second term. PM Modi is the first world leader to visit the island nation over two months after the serial bombings on Easter left more than 250 dead.
PM Modi was received by Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe at the airport.
Shortly after landing at the Colombo airport, PM Modi tweeted:
Happy to be back in Sri Lanka, my third visit to this beautiful island in four years. Share the warmth shown by the people of SL in equal measure. India never forgets her friends when they are in need. Deeply touched by the ceremonial welcome. @RW_UNPpic.twitter.com/wjZjKPno01- Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 9, 2019
PM Modi's first stop in the country was at a church that was hit during the Easter Sunday terror attacks. "Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka," he said in his tribute.
During his visit, PM Modi will meet Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, Leader of Opposition and former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. PM Modi will meet an official delegation of the Tamil National Alliance, a political party that represents the country's Tamil minority during his brief stay in the neighbouring country.
PM Modi will also hold talks with the Indian community in Colombo in the afternoon. He is scheduled to leave for India at 3 pm.
On Friday, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Austin Fernando said that the Prime Minister's visit to Sri Lanka shows India's humane approach towards the people of island nation.
Multiple explosions ripped through Sri Lanka on April 21, when the Christian community was celebrating Easter Sunday. The explosions rattled three churches and high-end hotels across the country, killing more than 250 people. A local Jihadi group and ISIS affiliate, National Thowheeth Jama'ath, claimed responsibility for the devastating attacks.
The official visits to Sri Lanka and Maldives further indicate the importance India attaches to the policy of ''Neighbourhood First''. Addressing the Maldivian parliament on Saturday, PM Modi said state sponsorship of terrorism is the biggest threat the world is facing, in an apparent reference to Pakistan. He also called for the world community to unite to combat against terrorism and radicalisation.
During PM Modi's visit, the two countries signed six agreements to strengthen bilateral cooperation in key areas like defence and maritime security. A coastal surveillance radar system and a composite training centre for the Maldives defence forces were jointly inaugurated by Modi and Solih.
Prime Minister Modi was also conferred with the Maldives' highest honour "Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen" during his visit.
With inputs from agencies