NEW DELHI: The course-correction has begun with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Sunday holding talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The talks yielded progress on the issues of fishermen and return of refugees, even as New Delhi was briefed on reconciliation efforts to be taken by the new government in Colombo.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin described the talks as “extremely cordial, positive and substantive discussion”, which have resulted in several concrete outcomes.
During the three-hour talks at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan, Swaraj and Samaraweera, accompanied by officials, discussed all issues, including “political reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka and efforts of the new government in this regard, Indian development partnership projects in Lanka and fishermen-related issues”.
Demonstrating the mood of the new dispensation in Lanka, Samaraweera told Swaraj that “his choice of New Delhi as the first destination reflects the priority that the new government in Sri Lanka places on its relations with India”.
This is a loaded comment by Colombo, especially since the earlier Mahinda Rajapaksa government had annoyed Delhi by playing the China card too many times.
Samaraweera indicated that the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena sees India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “powerhouse of economic development and for Sri Lanka, it is a win-win situation”.
Samaraweera was carrying two invitations from Colombo — one for the External Affairs Minister and another which he will present to Modi during their meeting on Monday.
Swaraj accepted her invitation and dates for an early visit will be worked out diplomatically. The Lankan foreign minister will also meet National Security Advisor Ajit Kumar Doval on Monday.
The new Lankan president’s visit was also discussed and is likely to take place in February after the National Day celebrations.
On the reconciliation process, the MEA spokesperson did not divulge many details and said some of the information the visiting minister listed on the topic “flowed from the 100 days programme of the new government”.