External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Visit Sri Lanka Ahead of Prime Minister Modi's Tour

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Visit Sri Lanka Ahead of Prime Minister Modi's Tour

File Photo: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. (Agence France-Presse)

Colombo: 

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will arrive in Colombo on Friday to set the stage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Sri Lanka, the first bilateral visit to the country by an Indian Prime Minister in over 25 years.

During her two-day stay, Ms Swaraj will call on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and hold talks with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, the Sunday Times reported.

She is also expected to call on President Maithripala Sirisena during the trip, seen as a precursor to the visit by Mr Modi on March 13.

This is Prime Minister Modi's first visit to Sri Lanka during which he is likely to travel to war-ravaged Jaffna in the Tamil-dominated Northern Province and Trincomalee in the Eastern Province.

He is scheduled to travel to Jaffna, Anuradhapura and Kandy during his stay in Sri Lanka, the report said, citing presidential secretariat sources.

It further added that Mr Modi will visit the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy and also inspect ongoing Indian housing projects in the estate sector.

Mr Modi's visit will be a return for Mr Sirisena's visit to Delhi last month that saw the two countries sign a civil nuclear pact.

It was Mr Sirisena's first overseas visit since being inducted as the president in January.

Mr Modi was originally invited to visit Sri Lanka by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, India-Sri Lanka relations nosedived during the Rajapaksa regime as China had expanded its footprint in the country by building ports, highways and participating in other infrastructure projects.

Mr Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister since Rajiv Gandhi in 1987 to visit the island.

Mr Modi's visit to Sri Lanka will be part of a tour of four Indian Ocean nations, including Mauritius, Seychelles and the Maldives, the report said, adding that his visit to Male seems uncertain because of the political crisis there.

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