EAM Jaishankar to embark on first visit to Sri Lanka after Katchatheevu island controversy

EAM Jaishankar to visit Sri Lanka
Image Source : FILE External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is all set to embark on his visit to Sri Lanka on Thursday. This is going to be his first bilateral visit to any foreign country in his second term in office. Moreover, the visit is the first after the Katchatheevu Island became a hot topic in Indian politics during the Lok Sabha elections. 

EAM Jaishanka’s first visit to Sri Lanka speaks volumes about India’s long-persisting policy of ‘Neighbourhood First’. As put by the MEA in its latest press release, “Reaffirming India’s Neighbourhood First Policy, the visit underlines India’s continued commitment to Sri Lanka as its closest maritime neighbour and time-tested friend. The visit will add momentum to connectivity projects and other mutually beneficial cooperation across sectors.”

Notably, Dr S Jaishankar was part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s delegation last week at the G7 Outreach summit in Italy. The upcoming trip to the South Asian nation will be his standalone bilateral visit after he assumed charge as the external affairs minister for the second term on June 11.

According to the MEA, the minister will meet the Sri Lankan leadership on wide-ranging issues. “This will be the external affairs minister’s first bilateral visit after the formation of the new government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” it said.

Controversy around Katchatheevu Island

The visit comes after the conclusion of Lok Sabha elections in the country where the  Katchatheevu island became a contentious topic as PM Modi, citing an RTI filed by BJP Tamil Nadu President Annamalai, attacked Congress over ceding the island to Sri Lanka. After the matter made headlines, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told the domestic media that the issue was resolved 50 years ago. “This is a problem discussed and resolved 50 years ago and there is no necessity to have further discussions on this. I don’t think it will come up,” he said.

Sri Lankan President visited India for PM Modi’s swearing-in

Moreover, it is pertinent to note that Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe was among the seven top leaders from the Indian neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) who attended the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Modi and his Council of Ministers at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on June 9.

Apart from him, President of Maldives Mohamed Muizzu, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Vice-President of Seychelles Ahmed Afif, Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay and Prime Minister of Nepal Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ visited the swearing-in ceremony.

(WIth PTI Inputs)

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