Colombo, August 23: An interaction was held on 23 August 2023 at the Parliament of Sri Lanka between High Commissioner of India Gopal Baglay, members of the India-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Association and leaders of various political parties.
The Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena convened the meeting, which was attended by more than 50 MPs. External Affairs Minister of India (EAM) Dr. S. Jaishankar addressed the gathering via a video message.
In his remarks, the parliament Speaker reiterated the long standing bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka and emphasized the role played by India-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Association as a vital platform for nurturing dialogue and cooperation between the legislative bodies of the two countries.
The High Commissioner, in his remarks recalled the recent visit of H.E. President Ranil Wickremesinghe to India and reiterated the central role of connectivity in bringing greater economic prosperity to the two nations. In his remarks, Secretary of the India-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Association, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa appreciated India’s assistance to Sri Lanka and called for greater Parliamentary exchanges between the two nations.
The EAM, in his address, delved into India’s positive contributions to Sri Lanka’s development, stability, and prosperity based on geographical proximity and shared democratic values between the two countries. He highlighted the swift and substantial response by India to the economic challenges faced by Sri Lanka over the past year, exemplifying India’s commitment to the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
He emphasized that the financial assistance of approximately USD 4 billion extended by India was unprecedented in both magnitude and swiftness, surpassing the response of international institutions and bilateral partners.
The EAM elaborated on India’s vision of fostering long-term and sustainable solutions, mentioning collaborative efforts to address Sri Lanka’s energy requirements through grid connectivity and a Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants (POL) pipeline. He highlighted the potential of renewable energy and regional economic activities, including the Trincomalee hub, for mutual benefit.
He emphazised that the key to prosperous future between the two countries lay in enhanced connectivity in various domains, such as maritime, air, energy, trade, investment, and digital ties. Referencing the recent visit of President Ranil Wickremesinghe to India, the EAM highlighted that the talks between the two Leaders reinforced the commitment to enhancing trade, investment, and people-to-people connectivity, exemplifying the shared vision of collaboration.
On regional security, the EAM reiterated India’s “Security and Growth for All in the Region” (SAGAR) outlook and its expression through forums such as the Colombo Security Conclave, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and BIMSTEC.
The EAM also reiterated India’s support for the preservation of Sri Lanka’s multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-religious identity. He expressed hope for a reconciliation process that addresses the aspirations of the Tamil community for equality, for justice and self-respect within the framework of a united and prosperous Sri Lanka. He highlighted a meaningful devolution of powers according to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and early conduct of Provincial Council elections as being facilitative towards this objective.
The address by the EAM served as a reminder of the enduring friendship between India and Sri Lanka and reinvigorated the commitment to strengthen ties for the mutual benefit of both nations and the broader region.