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Sri Lanka's president to visit India

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to begin a three-day visit to India on Tuesday. The visit comes amid growing concern in Sri Lanka over a proposed economic agreement between the two neighbours.

world Updated: Jun 07, 2010 08:42 IST

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to begin a three-day visit to India on Tuesday and will meet with his counterpart Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The visit comes amid growing concern in Sri Lanka over a proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two neighbours.

Both opposition members as well as some in the government have called on Rajapaksa not to go ahead with the agreement, which goes beyond bilateral trade and also includes providing services, the Sunday Times reported.

Protesters have claimed that CEPA would enable Indians to enter the service sector, which would be a disadvantage to Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa's visit also comes as Sri Lanka has been looking to expedite rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the north, which was liberated from Tamil rebels last year.

India already has a contract to rebuild the damaged railway network in the north and improve runways in the northern air base. India is also working on a coal power project in the northeast of Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, a 30-member Chinese delegation headed by Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang is due in Sri Lanka on Thursday for a three-day visit. It is expected that China will agree to loan Sri Lanka $200 million to build a second international airport in the south and an additional $100 million to upgrade the railway network.

Both India and China backed Sri Lanka in its efforts to crush the rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The 26-year fight against the rebels came to an end last May after LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed.