Ten years after an Indian head of government visited Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will arrive in Colombo on Friday to participate in the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit.
Apart from attending the August 2-3 Saarc summit, Singh is expected to have a number of bilateral meetings, including with Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Gilani and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse.
Singh will meet Gilani in a much-changed environment from the talks held by Prime Ministers A.B. Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif on July 30, 1998, in Colombo — days after India and Pakistan went in for tit-for-tat nuclear tests.
While the terror issue will be high on Singh’s agenda, India and Pakistan are now in separate categories on the nuclear issue, with New Delhi moving to clinch the civil nuclear deal with Washington.
India, which will hand over the Saarc chairman’s job to Sri Lanka, believes that it has been able to take the 23-year-old organisation from a declaratory stage to an implementation phase.
Displaying its commitment, India has already contributed $19.24 million towards the Saarc Development Fund, which will be launched at the summit.