India will always be a ‘dependable partner and reliable friend’ of Sri Lanka: Jaishankar
Colombo: Assuring that India will always be a “dependable partner and reliable friend” of Sri Lanka, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said the country is open to strengthening its relationship with Colombo on the basis of “mutual trust, mutual interest, mutual respect and mutual sensitivity”.
Speaking at a joint media briefing here with his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena, Jaishankar also said that the coronavirus pandemic has not been able to dent the bilateral relationship and that the two countries are now looking at post-COVID cooperation.
“COVID hasn’t been able to dent our bilateral cooperation. In fact, high level contacts were maintained and indeed strengthened during the past year and the virtual summit between our prime ministers was a high watermark for us in 2020,” he said.
Jaishankar, who earlier met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said he discussed cooperation for post-COVID health and economic recovery. “India will be a reliable partner in Sri Lanka’s development,” he said.
He told reporters that reflecting its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, India has supported Sri Lanka’s efforts to tackle COVID through timely medical assistance.
“We are now looking at post-COVID cooperation and I carry back with me Sri Lanka’s interest in accessing vaccines from India,” said Jaishankar, who is here on a three-day visit – his first foreign trip of the year. This is also the first by a foreign dignitary to Sri Lanka in the new year.
He said India sees International cooperation in this area as its “duty”.
Sri Lankan leadership formally requested Indian assistance to obtain the COVID vaccine during meetings with Jaishankar here.
Assuring that India will always be a “dependable partner and reliable friend” of Lanka, Jaishankar said the country is open to strengthening its relationship with the island nation on the basis of “mutual trust, mutual interest, mutual respect and mutual sensitivity”.
He underlined that both the neighbours are now facing immediate challenges of post-COVID recovery. “This is not just a public health issue but also a crisis of the economy,” he said.
‘It is in Sri Lanka’s ‘own interest’ to meet expectations of Tamils’
Colombo: India on Wednesday called on Sri Lanka to meet the expectations of its minority Tamil community for equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united country for its “own interest” as part of the reconciliation process.
During a joint media interaction with his counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is in the island nation for his first overseas visit of the year, underlined India’s backing for Lanka’s reconciliation process and an “inclusive political outlook” that encourages ethnic harmony.
“As we promote peace and well-being in the region, India has been strongly committed to the unity, stability and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. Our support for the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka is longstanding, as indeed for an inclusive political outlook that encourages ethnic harmony,” he said.
“It is in Sri Lanka’s own interest that the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united Sri Lanka are fulfilled. That applies equally to the commitments made by the Sri Lankan government on meaningful devolution, including the 13th Amendment to the Constitution,” Jaishankar added.
The progress and prosperity of Sri Lanka will surely be advanced as a consequence, he asserted.