mangala SSri Lankan foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera will be in Delhi over the weekend to prepare for the visit of his country’s newly-elected president, Maithripala Sirisena, next month.

With the new government seen as favourably disposed to India, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reached out to Samaraweera and invited him for a visit. On his maiden visit abroad as the Lankan Foreign Minister in this stint, Samaraweera would hold discussions with Swaraj next Sunday, official sources told ET. That the new foreign minister chose India as his maiden port of call indicates the importance given to New Delhi by the new dispensation in Colombo, a source said.

“Mr Samaraweera has decided to visit India, his first overseas visit as foreign minister, for discussions with Ms Swaraj on January 18,” said the source on Tuesday. Samaraweera was foreign minister between 2005 and 2007 under the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. After he was sacked, he left the ruling Sri Lankan Freedom Party to form his own political group, which later merged with opposition UNP.

Samaraweera, a key aide of Sirisena, had accused Rajapaksa of trying to stage a coup at the fag of counting to disrupt the election results last week. According to him, Rajapaksa’s plan failed after the Army chief refused to support the former President. A few hours after he was sworn in Colombo on Monday evening, Swaraj had tweeted, “congratulations to my friend Mr Mangala Samaraweera on his appointment as foreign minister of Sri Lanka.” (Economic Times)

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