COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday paid his last respects to former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee, who died earlier in the week, describing the departed leader "a dear friend of Sri Lanka and its people."
Rajapaksa visited the India House and wrote in the condolence book being maintained by the Indian High Commission here, the prime minister's office said.
"The late president was a dear friend of Sri Lanka and its people. The absence of his friendly leadership would be felt by the Indian public, Sri Lanka and the entire world," Mahinda said in his condolence message.
The Indian High Commission said Mahinda was the first to write in the condolence book.
The high commission thanked the prime minister for his tributes.
"In this sad moment, the condolences offered by you (Mahinda) and the Sri Lankan people would provide solace to the family of the former president and the Indian people," the high commission said in a Twitter post.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa earlier condoled Mukherjee's demise.
"I am deeply saddened to learn the demise of former Indian president #PranabMukherjee. He will be remembered for his service to the people of #India. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends," the Sri Lankan president tweeted on August 31.
Mulherjee, India's 13th president, died on Monday following a 21-day battle with multiple ailments.
He had tested positive for COVID-19 on August 10 and was operated the same day for removal of a brain clot.
He was 84.