PM Modi lands in Sri Lanka, China gets a sub snub

Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Sri Lanka on Thursday for the second time in two years on an official visit that will see him attend the International Vesak Day celebrations, one of the biggest Buddhist festivals, as the chief guest on Friday besides connecting with Indianorigin Tamil tea workers.

Before his departure, Modi said during his visit he “will interact with leading Buddhist spiritual leaders, scholars and theologians”. “My visit brings to the fore one of the most abiding links between India and Sri Lanka — the shared heritage of Buddhism,” he said in a Facebook post.

Modi was received at Colombo airport by Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickramsinghe and other senior ministers. India is courting new constituencies in Sri Lanka Modi’s Lanka visit comes at a time when Lanka has reportedly refused a Chinese request to dock its submarine in Colombo port on May 16. A Reuters report said China had asked for permission to dock its submarine in Colombo, which had been refused.

It’s unclear whether the refusal is temporary or a conscious decision by the Sirisena government. The last time a Chinese submarine docked in Colombo, India was furious since it came just after a Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to India and just before the visit of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe.

In a Facebook post before his departure, PM said, “During my last visit in 2015, I had the opportunity to visit Anuradhapura, a Unesco world heritage site and a leading centre of Buddhism for centuries. This time, I will be privileged to pay respect at the revered Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, also known as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. My visit (this time) will commence in Colombo with a visit to the Seema Malaka at the Gangaramayya temple.”

 At Seema Malaka, the two PMs were received on Thursday by the chief monk, following which Modi offered flowers and inaugurated the light festival of Vesak. On Friday, Prime Minister Modi will inaugurate a 150-bed hospital in Dickoya built with Indian assistance besides addressing Indianorigin Tamil tea workers, a group of people traditionally at the end of the line of Indian diplomatic efforts.
Modi met Sri Lankan Maithripala Sirisena and Wickremasinghe though no agreements are expected to be signed. It’s not clear whether he will meet former President Mahinda Rajapakse, who has just floated a new political party and had been at the forefront of protests against India. At a recent rally where black flags were raised against India, Rajapakse, according to reports, refused to participate. Sources said he too wants to reach out to India.
But has to chivvy the executors of his foreign policy to implement many of the key projects that could be the face of Indian diplomacy in the island nation if India wants to be seen as a viable counter to growing Chinese influence.
In fact, as soon as Modi leaves Colombo, Wickremasinghe is scheduled to travel to China to be part of the Belt & Road meet.
Source:- TNN
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