Press Trust of india

EAM Jaishankar meets Rajapaksa brothers; discuss challenges faced by Sri Lanka

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Colombo:  Former Sri Lankan presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and his younger brother Gotabaya Rajapaska on Friday held discussions with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on a range of issues of mutual interest and thanked the Indian government for its steadfast commitment to assisting Colombo during its troubled times.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 73, fled Sri Lanka to the Maldives on a Sri Lanka Airforce plane in July last year, as the country plunged into its worst economic and humanitarian crisis since its independence from Great Britain in 1948.

“Called on former President @PresRajapaksa today. Discussed the current challenges faced by Sri Lanka and India’s strong support in this hour of need,” Jaishankar said in a tweet.

In September last year, he was given special security and a state bungalow upon his return here from Thailand.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, an ex-military officer, was appointed Sri Lanka president in November 2019.

Mahinda Rajapaksa was forced to resign as Sri Lanka’s prime minister in May last year following street protests in the country against the government led by Gotabaya Rajapaksa for mishandling the unprecedented economic crisis.

“Had successful discussions with India’s External Affairs Min @DrSJaishankar & discussed a range of issues of mutual interest,” Mahinda Rajapaksa tweeted.

“Also thanked the Indian govt. for its steadfast commitment in assisting #SriLanka during its troubled times & the strong ties shared between Sri Lanka & India,” the 77-year-old leader tweeted.

Jaishankar also met the leader of opposition Sajith Premadasa and exchanged views about bilateral ties.

“Nice to meet leader of opposition @sajithpremadasa. Exchanged views about our bilateral ties,” he tweeted.

Later, Jaishankar also met Douglas Devanan, Sri Lanka’s minister of fisheries.

“Discussed cooperation on fisheries and stressed working together and humanitarian approach,” the External Affairs Minister said in a tweet.

Jaishankar is in Sri Lanka to meet the country’s top leaders to enhance bilateral ties and finalise a debt restructuring plan to help Colombo carve out a path from its economic crisis.

The IMF facility would enable the island nation to obtain bridging finance from markets and other lending institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

Sri Lanka was hit by an unprecedented financial crisis in 2022 due to a severe paucity of foreign exchange reserves, sparking political turmoil in the country which led to the ouster of the all-powerful Rajapaksa family, which has dominated Sri Lankan politics for over two decades.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the patriarch of the Rajapaksa family, served as president from 2005 to 2015.

He also served as the prime minister from 2004 to 2005, 2018, and 2019 to 2022.

The Rajapaksas have dominated Sri Lankan politics for over two decades.

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