As part of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, external affairs minister S Jaishankar will leave here tomorrow on a three-day visit to Sri Lanka to further strengthen the relationship with Colombo.
The visit comes at a time when China is making all out efforts to increase its influence in the island nation. During his first overseas trip in the New Year, Jaishankar is expected to take up with Colombo the release of Indian fishermen apprehended last month.
The visit will also provide him an opportunity to review the developments in India-Sri Lanka relations from the strategic and long-term perspective.
Announcing the visit, the external affairs ministry said Jaishankar’s visit at the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena signified the priority both countries attach to strengthening their close and cordial relations in all spheres of mutual interest.
Jaishankar is expected to also meet Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during the visit. Colombo has, over the past year, signalled on several occasions that India was a priority for the Rajapaksa government. Jaishankar’s visit is the second high-profile visit to Colombo in the last two months.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had flown to Colombo in November for the trilateral discussion on maritime cooperation and security with Sri Lanka and the Maldives.