Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena will hold bilateral discussions in New Delhi on Thursday, including with his Indian counterpart Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar. He was scheduled to arrive in Delhi late on Wednesday.
Mr. Gunawardena’s visit comes over a month after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was in New Delhi, on his maiden visit abroad after being elected to the country’s highest office in the November presidential election.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the visiting Foreign Minister will meet Mr. Jaishankar in the morning, after a meeting with the Foreign Secretary.
Minister Gunawardena’s visit marks a high-level follow-up to President Rajapaksa’s New Delhi visit. India announced a $450 million line of credit for development and counter-terror.
In an interview to The Hindu then, President Rajapaksa promised he would be “frank” and “upfront” to avoid the misunderstandings of the past between New Delhi and Colombo. India and other countries must invest more in Sri Lanka to counter Chinese investment, he had said. Further, Mr. Gotabaya underscored development, not power devolution, to the war-affected Tamil community, raising concern among the Sri Lankan Tamil polity over prospects for post-war reconciliation and the long-pending political solution. This, after New Delhi conveyed to Colombo its “expectation” that the new government take forward post-war reconciliation.
Mr. Gunawardena’s visit will likely point to Colombo’s next steps in its engagement with New Delhi, including in development cooperation. New Delhi and Colombo have been negotiating possible partnerships in developing the world-war era oil tanks in the eastern Trincomalee district and the East Container Terminal in Colombo — a project Japan is also part of — with little progress. While India had held discussions on the southern Mattala airport adjoining the Chinese-built and run Hambantota port with the predecessor government, President Rajapaksa has said Sri Lanka will develop the airport on its own.