FM lauds India’s help in pandemic era | Daily News

FM lauds India’s help in pandemic era

The Indian Government’s “Neighbourhood First” policy made a very positive impact on Sri Lanka’s health sector and the economy during the critical pandemic period, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said while welcoming his Indian counterpart Dr. S. Jaishankar at his ministry.

Gunawardena was speaking to the press following his bilateral talks with Minister Jaishankar who arrived in Colombo on a three-day visit at his invitation.

Under the ‘Neighbourhood First ‘ programme, Minister Gunawardena further said that India also extended assistance to repatriate stranded Sri Lankans, who were pilgrims, students and patients.

“The immense cultural bonds strengthen our friendship at all times. Furthermore, today our two Nations are the foremost Parliamentary Democracies in Asia,” he said, recalling the visits of Gautama Buddha 2600 years ago and the subsequent arrival of Arahat Mahinda Maha Thera and Sangamitta Thera, son and daughter of Emperor Asoka the Great, who was instrumental in establishing the Buddhasasana in Sri Lanka 2,300 years ago. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has firmly stated that he is committed to the well-being, progress and equal opportunities for all our citizens Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and others.

“During our talks, we focused on multiple areas of mutual cooperation in the identified sectors of economics, finance, trade, commerce, defence, security and fisheries, cultural and particularly on the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic and the post Covid era that we are moving forward to and efforts we have jointly taken since the outbreak last year.”

Gunawardena took the opportunity to convey profound gratitude to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian government and to External Affairs Minister for the tremendous support India extended during these past several months to mitigate the adverse impact of the Covid pandemic.

“My delegation sought India’s partnership for our economic revival, stability through enhanced investments in different sectors of the economy. Of course, as close neighbours and being littoral states of the Indian Ocean, we discussed defence and security related matters, as well as the issues related to maritime and fisheries sectors.”

“We agreed to continue our current momentum of coordinated and close dialogue in these areas to curb illegal activities and our continued cooperation in the BIMSTEC, IORA and SAARC.

At a time when knowledge and technology become great factors of global presence, the minister said the youths of the two nations will certainly lead their nations to a promising tomorrow.

“As we work closely and mostly on harnessing glean renewable energy like solar and wind to drive our economies, our collective thought on environment enrichment will positively largely contribute towards combating global climate change. The Green economy is complemented by the vast Blue Economy that our surroundings are naturally gifted with.”

“Our continued dialogues in this area will strengthen movement to the future. India’s offer of US $ 15 million to restore Buddhist heritage as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Virtual Summit with the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa last September, will be utilized through mutual consultations.”

Gunawardena also thanked India for constructing the Jaffna Cultural Centre at the cost over US $ 11 million, which will be declared open on an agreed date.