- President Sirisena visits India this month on 16th.
By Siva Sivapragasam
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to visit Sri Lanka next month and it becomes a visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the island nation in over 25 years. During the visit Mr. Modi is also scheduled to go to Jaffna.
The visit has been scheduled a month after the visit of Sri Lanka’s newly elected President, Maithripala Sirisena, to New Delhi in mid-February. In a twist of events Mr. Modi’s visit will coincide with the 28th Human Rights Council session in Geneva, where progress on a U.S.-sponsored investigation into Sri Lanka’s rights record will be reviewed.
The last visit to Sri Lanka by an Indian Prime Minister was in 1987, when Rajiv Gandhi travelled to Colombo to sign the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord with the then Sri Lankan President, J. R. Jayewardene. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in Colombo in 2008 to attend the SAARC summit and hand over its chairmanship to the then President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, he skipped the Commonwealth Summit that Sri Lanka hosted in November 2013, a decision that was strongly criticised by sections in New Delhi and Colombo.
Mr. Modi is expected to travel across the island, including to the North where India has infrastructure initiatives, including a project to build 50,000 houses for war-displaced people. The two countries are engaged in discussions on the possible repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees in India.
The high-level visits are likely to cover discussions of bilateral and strategic issues concerning the two countries.The devolution and implementation of the 13th Amendment — born out of the Indo-Lanka Accord — will be a very likely theme for discussion.
Modi’s visit to the North is also on the Sri Lankan itinerary when he is very likely to hold discussions with the Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran on a range of issues
Mr. Modi was one of the first leaders to congratulate Mr. Sirisena on the morning of January 9 immediately after Mr. Sirisena won the Presidential election.