Sri Lanka crisis very serious, India extending help: External Affairs minister S Jaishankar
India has offered a 'line of credit' to Sri Lanka that has helped the country ensure a steady supply of essential items from India and also to purchase fuel.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Acknowledging that the crisis in Sri Lanka is "very serious", Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar said India’s focus is on helping the country emerge from the fiscal turmoil.
"Right now, they have serious problems. When your neighbour and friend is in difficulty, you have to step up and do what you can to support them. At the moment, the focus is on helping the Sri Lankans, along with the IMF and other partner countries, to see if they can deal with the situation,” Jaishankar told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.
The minister said India was helping Sri Lanka as part of the Modi government’s policy called "neighbourhood first". India has offered a "line of credit" to Sri Lanka that has helped the country ensure a steady supply of essential items from India and also to purchase fuel. He added that India has committed USD 3.8 billion to the island nation this year alone.
However, Jaishankar acknowledged there are bigger issues relating to the management of the economy and about having a prudent fiscal policy, which the island nation has to sort out. Not only the people of Sri Lanka but the global community also greatly values the help India has extended to the country, he said.
Jaishankar said it would not be correct to say there is a “refugee issue” at this point in time. He admitted that a few people have come to the country following the crisis but it did not merit being called so.
"If the world, encouraged and led by India, is able to give adequate support, we should be able to deal with the problem there itself," he said.
The external affairs minister said India's standing in the world has improved ever since the Modi government assumed office. "Our people are being treated better, especially in the Gulf countries," he said.
Asked about how India handles propaganda in the global arena, Jaishankar said the country has the self-confidence to correct the picture. "We will not hesitate from voicing our views and defending our interests," he underscored
On the Nupur Sharma remarks row that earned backlash for India, especially from the Gulf countries, Jaishankar said many of the countries eventually appreciated the clarification and the position of the party and the government on the matter. "Let us not exaggerate the issue and attribute to them what is not actually correct," he said.
On his three-day visit to Thiruvananthapuram, Jaishankar said the objective of his visit coincided with the eighth anniversary of the Narendra Modi government."The objective is to make an assessment of how much the government’s programmes and initiatives on national development have impacted society," he added.
The Union minister said he will also take stock of the public reactions to the transformation that has happened during the eight years of Modi government. Jaishankar's visit assumes significance when seen in the backdrop of BJP’s efforts to make gains in southern states including Kerala for the 2024 general elections.