President Maithripala Sirisena returned to the island today (Feb.18) after completing a successful three-day State visit to India.
This was the first overseas visit by President Sirisena after assumption of office last month.
During his visit, President Sirisena met with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The President also met several political leaders and other dignitaries.
A special welcome ceremony accorded by Indian President Mukherjee was held at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Monday, to ceremonially welcome President Maithripala Sirisena and his delegation. The welcome ceremony was followed by a meeting between the two Presidents.
Speaking at the occasion, President Mukherjee said Sri Lanka occupies a special place in India`s worldview and the relationship between the two countries is not merely geographic.
President Mukherjee noted that in contemporary times, the relations have become multi-faceted, encompassing trade and investment, science, education, security and defence, and above all, people-to-people exchanges.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee said India takes pride in the strengthening of democracy in Sri Lanka, and stands ready to continue to extend all necessary support for the island nation in its new chapter.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that “the Indian government is most keen to make Sri Lanka among the closest friends of India in the economic sector and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s official visit to India give great strength to this,” when he met with the with President Sirisena at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Feb.16.
President Sirisena was warmly welcomed by the Indian Prime Minister at the Hyderabad House, where four agreements were signed to further strengthen economic, power and energy, fisheries and cultural affairs between the two countries.
Prime Minister Modi, who expressed his great satisfaction at President Sirisena’s decided to make India the venue of his first official visit abroad said this was an occasion that gave rise to a common voice between the two countries and would be most beneficial to the friendship between India and Sri Lanka.
During the discussion among the two leaders with regard to cooperation in matters of regional cooperation, Indian Prime Minister pointed out that it should be useful for Sri Lanka to have an exchange of views with the Maldives.
Both leaders who discussed the issue of fisheries that prevail between India and Sri Lanka, were of the view that both countries should work towards a solution that would bring about the best results to each other.
President Sirisena said Sri Lanka is eagerly waiting to extend a warm welcome to Prime Minister Modi when he undertakes a state visit to Sri Lanka in March.
President Maithripala Sirisena in a Media Statement after the signing of MoUs at Hyderabad House in India said that this first official visit to India by him has been most successful and fruitful and has contributed to the developing and ensuring friendship between the two countries.
“By the signing of MoUs we have already established a good beginning towards future progress, he further said.
Sri Lanka as a country that has a very strong influence of Buddhism and Hinduism, the historic relationship between our two countries extends through culture, economics, commerce and trade, defence and clearly spreads through all these sectors, he added.
“Within a very short time since my election as President of Sri Lanka I chose India or Maha Bharatha for my first foreign visit. The relationship between Sri Lanka and India extends through a very long period. It is a history of several thousand years. Speaking as a Buddhist we see that the philosophy of the Buddha and the philosophy of Hinduism have a very close relationship,” the President said.
He also visited the National Museum in New Delhi.
President Maithripala Sirisena also met the former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi.
During the meeting both Indian leaders congratulated President Sirisena on his great election victory. They also commended the President for the progress so far of the 100 day programme to develop Sri Lanka.
President Sirisena asked India’s assistance for the steps taken for the reconciliation and national development.
A veteran Congress leader Dr. Karan Singh too called on President Sirisena.
President Maithripala Sirisena also visited Bodh Gayaand Tirupathi shrines on Feb.17.