Indian Foreign Secretary discusses economic collaboration

indian-vehiclesForeign Secretary S. Jaishankar called on President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday morning and discussed potential Indo-Lanka partnerships in areas such as transport, energy and infrastructure.

Mr. Jaishankar, here on an economic diplomacy initiative, is accompanied by an official delegation of top officials from public sector companies such as GAIL, NTPC, IOC and RITES. A team from the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) is also accompanying him, official sources in Colombo said.

Mr. Jaishankar, who arrived in Colombo on Saturday on a three day-visit, is holding a series of meetings with key government officials and business heads in Colombo. “His meeting with the President lasted a little over 20 minutes and was largely focussed on the economic diplomacy initiative,” a senior official with the Sri Lankan government told The Hindu.

On Monday, the visiting Indian delegation will hold sector-wise meetings with their Sri Lankan counterparts. On the agenda, official sources said, are discussions on likely partnerships in the power sector — using Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) — , developing the Trincomalee Oil Farm and expansion of the airports in Palally in Jaffna Peninsula and Colombo, among other projects.

Following Sri Lanka’s decision this September to scrap an NTPC-aided power project in the strategically-important Trincomalee, India offered to partner the country in LNG and solar power initiatives.

The foreign secretary’s visit comes a week after President Sirisena met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Goa, on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit, where India offered to build a solar power plant in the eastern port-town of Trincomalee.

India and Sri Lanka are also negotiating a trade deal, the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) which, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe recently said, would be signed by end of December. However, Indian government sources have maintained that mid-2017 was a more realistic deadline.

Mr. Jaishankar will call on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday, official sources said. (The Hindu)

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