Sri Lanka President Sirisena lands in India on his first foreign trip

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 16, 2015 01:20 IST

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena landed in India on Sunday, on his first foreign trip after assuming office, as both countries look to chart a course of closer cooperation.

Sirisena, who defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential polls last month, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
The bilateral discussions are expected to see both countries expand their cooperation in various fields, including trade, economy, higher education, tourism and people-to-people contact.

The Lankan President’s visit is likely to allay India’s concerns over China’s growing influence on the island nation.

India has long considered Sri Lanka to be within its strategic sphere of influence.

But China ploughed huge sums into Sri Lankan infrastructural projects, becoming the country’s biggest foreign financier and enjoying significant political and even military influence under Rajapaksa.

“A first visit is always an opportunity to set directions…We expect substantial talks, we expect outcomes in terms of agreements, in terms of frameworks, and in terms of announcements,” India’s foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters ahead of his arrival.

The visiting president will also visit Bodh Gaya and Tirupati.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to call on him and President Pranab Mukherjee will host a banquet for Sirisena on Monday.

(with agency inputs)

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