Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa calls on Narendra Modi, praises bilateral ties

Colombo: Sri Lanka's former president Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday night called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and praised bilateral cooperation over the years.

"Rajapaksa's talks with Modi was a very cordial discussion and he was happy with India-Lanka cooperation over the years," Indian High Commissioner Taranjith Singh Sandhu told media.

File image of former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Reuters

File image of former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Reuters

Modi met Rajapaksa at the latter's request, the High Commissioner said.

Earlier, Rajapaksa claimed that India and Sri Lanka may have signed deals on economic cooperation before Prime Minister Modi's arrival in the country.

"The information I have is that all deals have already been signed. So the Indian prime minister's arrival or non-arrival would be immaterial," Rajapaksa told reporters in the central town of Kandy, hours before Modi touched down in Colombo.

The Sinhala strongman who ruled the country for a decade said he held nothing against Modi's visit.

"The problem will be only if they sign agreements. I understand these have already been signed," he said.

Briefing media on Modi's engagements in Colombo, Sandhu said the prime minsiter will not be signing any agreements with Sri Lanka during the visit.

He said the prime minister has expressed India’s commitment and support to Sri Lanka and India will be a strong development partner for the island nation's growth and prosperity.

Modi, on his second visit to Sri Lanka in two years, is here primarily to participate tomorrow in the International Vesak Day celebrations, the biggest festival of Buddhists.

The two countries were set to sign an agreement to lease out oil tanks to India to jointly operate a strategic oil facility in the eastern port district of Trincomalee.

But Sri Lanka's opposition parties have objected to the deal, saying the government was selling state assets to India.

Rajapaksa's joint opposition has led a resistance to the Sririsena government's plan to enter into economic cooperation pacts with India, more particularly the Trincomalee venture.

Updated Date: May 12, 2017 08:13 AM

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