Colombo, October 12: India participated in the 23rd Council of Ministers’ (COM) meeting and the 25th Committee of Senior Officials of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 11 October 2023. The Indian delegation was led by External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr. S. Jaishankar.
In this meeting India assumed the role of the Vice Chair of IORA for the year 2023-25, followed by the Chairship in 2025-27. Prior to this meeting the IORA Senior Officials reviewed the entire range of IORA’s ongoing and future work and activities for 2022-27. The COM adopted the Colombo Communique and the ‘IORA Vision 2030 and Beyond’, among other IORA related documents.
On his second visit to Sri Lanka in 2023, EAM called on President of Sri Lanka, H.E Ranil Wickremesinghe and discussed a diverse range of areas pertaining to bilateral ties between the two countries. Recalling the bilateral economic partnership vision statement issued during the visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India in July 2023, they agreed on the need to strengthen multiple dimensions of connectivity such as trade, people-to-people, and energy partnership, among others as outlined in the statement. They also agreed to fast track priority steps for achieving the goals envisaged in the Vision Statement in a time bound manner.
The visit brought to the fore the wide scope and the agility of India’s development cooperation partnership with Sri Lanka. Diplomatic letters for formalizing an almost three-fold increase in the unit cost of a house from SLR 1.026 million to SLR 2.8 million under Phase-4 of Indian Housing Project for the construction of 10000 houses in plantation areas of Sri Lanka were exchanged. Soon, 1300 of these houses shall be rolled out. Government of India’s decision to further streamline the implementation of 9 ongoing grant projects by infusion of additional funds to the tune of upto 50% was also given effect through exchange of diplomatic letters.
126 houses under Phase-3 of Indian Housing Project in Badulla, Matale and Matara districts were inaugurated virtually. A total of more than one hundred houses constructed under Model Village Housing and Gram Shakthi projects in Hambantota, Jaffna, Matale and Puttalam districts were also handed over virtually.
To mark the establishment of 75 years of diplomatic relations between India and Sri Lanka, a joint logo was unveiled by EAM and the President of Sri Lanka. The logo which is shaded with hues of the two national flags also depicts the national emblems and captures the spirit of partnership, friendship and close ties between the two countries.
Another significant outcome achieved was the Joint Venture Shareholders Agreement on Dairy Development between National Dairy Development Board, Gujarat Milk Marketing Federation cooperative (also known as AMUL) and Cargills of Sri Lanka. This Agreement is in pursuance of the Joint Declaration of Intent signed during the visit of the President of Sri Lanka, aimed at realizing Sri Lanka’s self sufficiency in the sector by drawing upon India’s experience.