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'India marching towards economic glory': Sri Lanka hails 'excellent' ties with New Delhi

Sri Lanka's foreign minister Ali Sabry affirmed that its economic relationship with India continues to expand across several sectors and pledged to not let anybody threaten New Delhi's security threats. He also expressed Sri Lanka's desire to join the BRICS group and sought India's assistance.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Colombo Published on: May 21, 2024 12:02 IST
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry.
Image Source : ANI Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry.

Colombo: Sri Lanka's foreign minister Ali Sabry hailed the "excellent" relationship between his country and India, saying that the latter was marching towards economic glory that would be beneficial for the entire region, including Colombo. He also pledged as a responsible neighbour to not let anybody harm India's security interests.

Speaking to news agency ANI, Sabry said Sri Lanka was looking at a lot of investment in ports, renewable energy, and other infrastructure in India. "We have an excellent relationship, I think almost all-time high. There is a multi-faceted partnership between the two countries. Economically, we are trying to engage with each other for the common benefit of each other... I think that will open up many more avenues for the Indian to visit Colombo and see," he said.

He further said that all communities in Sri Lanka have been heavily influenced by the Indian civilisation. "All communities, Buddhists, Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, all have been influenced by the Indian civilization. So we see a lot of partnership going forward, and this Ramayan trail may be a very good beginning for us to further spur the already good tourism and people-to-people connection," he added.

The Sri Lankan minister also shed light on future connectivity initiatives, such as an increase in flight connections, ferry services and more. He was referring to the ferry service between Nagappatinam in India and Kankesanthurai (KKS) near Jaffna, which is a high-speed ferry operated by the Shipping Corporation of India and has a capacity of 150 passengers, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Won't let anybody harm India's security: Sabry

Sabry affirmed Sri Lanka's commitment to safeguarding India's national security interests, stressing that Colombo won't let anybody hamper New Delhi's security. India has previously expressed concerns about the visits of Chinese research vessels, which it fears could be used to spy on Indian defence installations and agencies. Sabry said his administration wants to work with other countries in a transparent manner but not at the cost of others.

"We have very clearly stated that we would like to work with all countries, but any reasonable concerns regarding Indian security will be taken into note, and we will not allow anyone to harm that. Subject to that, of course, in a very transparent manner, we would like to work with all countries," the Minister told ANI, while citing reports to claim that China had become India's biggest trading partner.

"So similarly, like you work with that, we would also like to work with everyone, but that should not come at anyone else's, third parties cost. So therefore, let me reiterate, as a responsible neighbour and a civilisational partner we will not undertake anything that would harm the legitimate security concerns of India," he said.

Sri Lanka seeks India's support for BRICS membership

Sabry also expressed his country's willingness to join the BRICS group and said it had become a "good body" after India became a part of it. He said Sri Lanka would first reach out to India when it formally applies to join the BRICS group. "The first country we would be talking to is India and we seek India's support for us to reach to the BRICS. And then of course I have been invited to take part on the BRICS foreign ministers meeting in Russia. So I hope that I will be there and then we will assess that," he said.

Russia took over the chairmanship of BRICS on January 1, 2024. Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates recently joined BRICS as new full members, in a strong indication of the growing authority of the association and its role in international affairs. 

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan minister also noted President Ranil Wickremesinghe's visit last year and now the government is looking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a high-level Indian delegation in the country. "We are looking forward to the visit to the Indian prime Minister as soon as possible when the circumstances conduce you for such a visit because my president already visited last year. So this is the turn for the Indian prime minister to visit Sri Lanka," he said.

(with inputs from ANI)

ALSO READ | 24 more Indian fishermen, arrested by Sri Lankan Navy, repatriated to India

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