PM Modi meets Sri Lanka’s Leader of Opposition

Colombo [Sri Lanka], May 12 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Sri Lanka's Leader of Opposition R. Sampanthan and other leaders of his Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party here on Friday. The meeting was described as a courtesy call as per protocol. Both leaders reportedly discussed issues of mutual interest to India and Sri Lanka, according to reports.

Prime Minister Modi, who will be rounding off his two-day visit to the island nation later this evening, had earlier in the day, inaugurated International Vesak Day celebrations, where he offered India's continued support to Sri Lanka, whom he described as a 'friend'."We are at a moment of great opportunity in our ties with Sri Lanka. For us most relevant benchmark for success of our friendship is your progress and success." "As you make important choices for harmony and progress of our society, you will find in India a friend and partner that will support your nation-building efforts.

I believe we are at a moment of great opportunity in our ties with Sri Lanka," he added. Talking about the Buddhist links between India and Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister said that the friendship between India and Sri Lanka was etched in time by the "Great Master- Buddha".

"Buddhism imparts an ever present radiance to our relationship. Vesak is an occasion for us to celebrate the unbroken shared heritage of Buddhism. Buddhism and its various strands are deep seated in our governance, culture and philosophy," said the Prime Minister.

He said the countries of South, Central, South East and East Asia were proud of their Buddhist links traced to the land of Buddha.

He further lauded Sri Lanka's Buddhist connection and said, "Sri Lanka takes pride in being among the most important nerve centres of Buddhist teachings and learning." Talking about the bilateral and economic relations, Prime Minister Modi said that "economic and social well being of people of Sri Lanka is linked with that of 1.25 billion Indians and security of our societies is indivisible".

He further mentioned India's aid to Sri Lanka for the development projects. "India's development cooperation with Sri Lanka amounts to USD 2.6 billion and its aim is to support Sri lanka in realizing peaceful, prosperous and secure future for its people," said Prime Minister Modi.

Prime Minister Modi also soothed the emotions of Indian origin Sri Lankan Tamils through what has been described as his 'medical diplomacy' through the inauguration of the Dickoya Glengairan super-specialty hospital built with Indian assistance of Rs 150 crores.

Modi said the health and well being of the people of Sri Lanka "is a shared priority". He also addressed Sri Lankan Tamils in the presence of President Maithripala Sirisena and community leaders, saying that he was aware of the Government of Sri Lanka's active steps to improve the living conditions of Tamil through various schemes, including a five-year National Plan of Action.

He hailed the spirit of Indian-origin Tamils in Sri Lanka and announced the construction of additional 10,000 houses in upcountry areas and the extension of the emergency ambulance service.

Prime Minister Modi assured Tamils that the government and people of India are with them in their journey towards peace and greater prosperity.

He also announced a series of sops for the Sri Lankans like setting up of vocational training centres, ten engineering training centres and labs to impart suitable skills, computer and science labs in plantation schools.

On Friday, Modi also visited the Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

It is a Buddhist temple and is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which is said to house the relic of the tooth of Lord Buddha.

The Prime Minister arrived in Colombo on Thursday evening for a two-day visit. He will be returning home this evening..

Source: ANI