In the first such high-profile visit since 2004, Indian navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma arrived in Colombo on Sunday for five-day official tour.
Coinciding with his visit, a guided missile destroyer of the Indian navy, INS Delhi, one of the largest warships built in India, also reached Colombo port to take part in joint exercises.
The last visit of an Indian navy chief was in September 2004 when Admiral Arun Prakash had come to Sri Lanka.
Verma would be meeting President Mahinda Rajapaksa besides being the chief guest at the Commissioning Parade of the new batch of Sri Lanka Navy Officers at the Naval and Maritime Academy in Trincomalee in eastern Sri Lanka.
Verma is expected to pay his respects at the memorial for the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) soldiers - killed during operations here between 1987 and 1990 - constructed by the Sri Lanka Navy in Colombo.
During his visit to Colombo for the 2008 SAARC summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was expected to open the memorial. However, the memorial was never officially unveiled.
Verma will visit the Kankesanthurai Harbour in Jaffna to discuss its repair and rehabilitation. To initiate the project, Indian Navyl Survey Ship ‘Nirupak’ would be commencing hydrographical survey of KKS harbour from June 30.
Verma’s tour is being seen here as part of efforts to strengthen Indo-Lanka defence ties in post-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) era. ``The visit will promote bilateral relations and mutual cooperation between the two countries and help Sri Lanka to enhance security in a post LTTE era,’’ the Sunday Island newspaper quoted a Naval officer as saying.
``Indian and Sri Lankan Navy Chiefs have been engaged in wide ranging mutual interactions over the years. They have jointly participated in a number of prestigious maritime defence forums which include the 19th Sea Power Symposium held at the Naval War College in the USA and Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) held in UAE,’’ the High Commission of India said in a statement.
The Indo-Lanka joint statement issued in New Delhi after Rajapaksa’s visit earlier this month had also mentioned strengthening of bilateral defence ties.