Focus, Neighbours


Sri Lanka seeks India’s help to counter terrorism: PM Wickremesinghe

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Monday that he sought India’s help to train the country’s security forces in counter-terrorism during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi on Sunday became the first foreign leader to visit Sri Lanka after the deadly Easter terror attacks on April 21 which killed 258 people and injured over 500. During his visit, Modi said he was confident that Sri Lanka will rise again and cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka.

“India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka,” he said. Prime Minister Modi also met President Maithripala Sirisena and the two leaders agreed that terrorism was a joint threat that needs collective and focussed action.

Wickremesinghe in a statement said he had assured Modi that the delayed Indo-Lanka projects will be expedited. The prime minister also said a series of joint initiatives between India and Sri Lanka were being planned to ensure continued economic cooperation.

The Prime Minister said Prime Minister Modi’s continual show of support towards Sri Lanka will serve to strengthen confidence and encourage more people to visit Sri Lanka.

“During his trip we discussed matters including the strengthening of regional security through reviving tri-lateral talks between Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives,” he was quoted as saying by the Colombo Gazette.

“I also requested that India work closely with Sri Lanka’s security forces, providing them with counter-terrorism training and logistical support” Wickremesinghe said. He also said that Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka, following the lifting of the travel advisories by many countries including the UK, France and China, will boost the tourism industry.

Following the Easter bombings, several countries issued travel advisories to their nationals, severely hurting the island nation’s tourism industry. Tourism accounts for about five per cent of Sri Lanka’s economy, with India, China and the UK the main source of tourists.

The country earned about USD 4.4 billion in 2018 from the tourism sector. The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said April recorded 166,975 foreign tourists in the country compared to 180,429 in April 2018, a 7.5 per cent dip in arrival of tourists from abroad.

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