Colombo [Sri Lanka], February 2 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's visit to Sri Lanka is being seen as a harbinger of positive developments and an improved economic and financial situation for the island nation.
Jaishankar during his visit to Sri Lanka reasserted India's pursuit of the 'Neighbourhood First' policy and the belief in not leaving a partner in adversity to fend for themselves.
Sri Lanka is currently facing a severe economic and financial crisis, the worst in the country since its independence from Great Britain in 1948.
The Sri Lankan economy plunged into crisis, with a high rate of inflation, a shortage of essential commodities including fuel and medicines, and a depleted foreign exchange reserve insufficient for import cover of even a few weeks.
India, in such devastating times for Sri Lanka, played the role of a good neighbour by helping the country in face of the crisis. India provided Sri Lanka with a credit line of USD 4 billion to overcome immediate and urgent needs such as that of payment for essential commodities, medicines, fuel and food items.
Jaishankar was on an official visit to Sri Lanka from January 19 to 20.
Jaishankar during his visit to Sri Lanka said India did not wait for others but as a trustworthy partner, promptly completed Sri Lanka's debt restructuring task. India's promptness is in stark contrast to China's stance which is dragging its feet on giving financial assurances to the IMF for Sri Lanka's debt restructuring programme.
The Minister pointed towards the need to boost ties between India and Sri Lanka in the fields of energy, trade and investment to help Sri Lanka recover faster. He said that more measures should be taken to make Sri Lanka's tourism industry more sustainable, such as by strengthening connectivity, encouraging Indian tourists to make RuPay payments and utilising UPI.
The External Affairs Minister during the visit, finalised an MoU for the implementation of High Impact Community Development projects, focussing on socio-economic development, infrastructure, health and education in Sri Lanka.
The visit brings positive signs for Sri Lanka's path towards economic recovery as well as a further strengthening of ties between the two countries.
Jaishankar, during his visit to Sri Lanka, expressed India's solidarity with the country and said that New Delhi would encourage more significant investments in the Sri Lankan economy, especially in the core areas like energy, tourism and infrastructure.
Addressing a press conference alongside Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Ali Sabry, Jaishankar stated that India counts on the Government of Sri Lanka to provide a more business-friendly environment to create a powerful pull factor, as he expressed confidence in the policymakers.
"India will encourage greater investments in the Sri Lankan economy, especially in the core areas like energy, tourism and infrastructure. We count on the Government of Sri Lanka to provide a more business-friendly environment to create a powerful pull factor. I am confident that the gravity of the situation is realized by policymakers here," Jaishankar said.
He stated that both sides have agreed in principle on renewable energy cooperation, as he underscored that Trincomalee can emerge as an energy hub during his address.(ANI)