Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his tour to Sri Lanka sounded out the South Asian region that terrorism is a ‘joint threat’ and India will take the lead in fighting it.
Meeting Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena weeks after his meeting during the swearing-in ceremony, the two leaders agreed that there needs to be the focus on the fight against terrorism.
“Met President @MaithripalaS, our second meeting in 10 days. President Sirisena and I agreed that terrorism is a joint threat that needs collective and focussed action. Reiterated India’s commitment to partner with Sri Lanka for a shared, secure and prosperous future,” PM Modi tweeted after his talks with Sirisena.
Landing on Sunday afternoon in Colombo, PM Modi’s first stop was St. Anthony’s church, one of the first sites of the dastardly Easter Sunday bombings by the Islamic State.
The decision to go there was to express solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. Paying tributes to the victims of the deadly terror strikes, the PM said the “cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka… I am confident Sri Lanka will rise again. Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.”
After the Church visit, Modi arrived at the President’s House to a red carpet welcome where President Sirisena received the Indian premier holding out an umbrella to cover him from rain. Both sides discussed “bilateral” issues of “mutual interest”.
President Sirisena hosted a banquet in honour of Prime Minister Modi. He later met his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe and top leaders of political parties including delegation of Tamil National Alliance, led by R Sampanthan.
“Assured India’s full support to further strengthen bilateral development partnership including through people-oriented projects in Sri Lanka,” Modi said after his meeting with Wickremesinghe.
Sri Lanka is headed for elections and one of the key stakeholders in the upcoming elections is the Rajapaksa family.
PM Modi held an extensive meeting with the Leader of Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa and discussed the need for close collaboration between the two countries in the fields of counter-terrorism, security and economic development.
“Had an extensive meeting with the Leader of Opposition, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. We discussed the need for close collaboration between India and Sri Lanka in the fields of counter-terrorism, security and economic development,” PM Modi tweeted.
While on one hand Modi government’s focus is to revive the ‘Ramayana circuit’, there will also be a special focus on the ‘Buddhist Circuit’. Sri Lanka has an important role to play in both circuits.
Taking that connect forward, President Sirisena gave Modi a special gift, a replica of the Samadhi Buddha Statue.
“A special gift from a special friend. President @MaithripalaS presented PM @narendramodi the Samadhi Buddha Statue. This is considered to be one of the best sculptures in the Anuradhapura era. The original statue was sculptured between the 4th and 7th centuries AD,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.
This replica of the Samadhi Buddha Statue has been hand carved using white teak. The masterpiece took almost two years to complete.