President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday thanked India for gifting a Dornier aircraft to Sri Lanka and said it will help start cooperation between the Sri Lanka Air Force and Sri Lanka Navy with the Indian Navy in maritime surveillance. Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe was present at the handover ceremony of the maritime surveillance aircraft which took place on a day when India celebrated its 76th Independence Day.
“This is the start of cooperation between the Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Navy with the Indian Navy in maritime surveillance,” he said. Referring to India’s Independence Day anniversary on Monday, Wickremesinghe said he was inspired by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous ‘tryst with destiny' speech delivered on the eve of India's Independence on August 14, 1947.
“It was the showing of the way forward by Pandit Nehru… India grasped it and today is becoming a world power, and it is still on the rise - by the mid-century when we are no longer there, you could see a powerful India playing a dominant role on the global stage,” Wickremesinghe said. He said Nehru played a leading role in Sri Lanka becoming a member of the United Nations. “He gave us full cooperation for Sri Lanka to become a member,” he said.
The Indian UN representative then V Krishna Menon had helped Wickremesinghe’s father who was then working on behalf of the Sri Lankan government to obtain UN membership. Wickremesinghe said he would like to advise the rising Sri Lankan politicians to know their Indian colleagues well. “Get to know them well, and get to deal with them, if not, it will be difficult for you to look at and understand issues. India is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour, we have common issues, it is essential we talk to them,” he asserted.