Friday, December 1, 2023

India, Sri Lanka embarking on new chapter in diplomatic, economic ties: PM

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India and Sri Lanka are embarking on a new chapter in diplomatic and economic relations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday as he hailed the launch of a ferry service between the two nations as an “important milestone” in strengthening ties.

Addressing the event to launch ferry services between Nagapattinam in India and Kankesanthurai in Sri Lanka, via a video message, Modi said the ferry service brings alive all historical and cultural connections.

“Connectivity is not only about bringing two cities closer. It also brings our countries closer, our people closer and our hearts closer,” he said.

The prime minister said India and Sri Lanka are embarking on a new chapter in diplomatic and economic relations and the launch of a ferry service between Nagapattinam and Kankesanthurai is an important milestone in strengthening the relations.

Underlining the shared history of culture, commerce and civilisation between India and Sri Lanka, the prime minister pointed out that Nagapattinam and nearby towns have been known for sea trade with many countries, including Sri Lanka, and the historical port of Poompuhar finds a mention as a hub in ancient Tamil literature.

He also spoke about Sangam age literature like Pattinappalai and Manimekalai which describe the movement of boats and ships between the two countries.

Modi also touched upon the great poet Subramania Bharti’s song ‘Sindhu Nadhiyin Misai’, which mentions a bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka. He said the ferry service brings alive all those historical and cultural connections.

During the recent visit of President Wickremesinghe, a vision document was jointly adopted for an economic partnership with the central theme of connectivity, the prime minister said. He emphasised that connectivity enhances trade, tourism and people-to-people ties, while also creating new opportunities for the youth of both countries.

Modi also recalled his visit to Sri Lanka in 2015 when direct flights between Delhi and Colombo were launched. Later, he said, the landing of the first international flight in the pilgrim town of Kushinagar from Sri Lanka was also celebrated.

He also noted that direct flights between Chennai and Jaffna began in 2019, and now the ferry service between Nagapattinam and Kankesanthurai is yet another important step in this direction.

“Our vision for connectivity goes beyond the transport sector,” Modi said as he underlined that India and Sri Lanka collaborate closely in a wide range of areas such as fintech and energy.

Noting that digital payments have become a mass movement and a way of life in India due to UPI, Modi said that both governments are working on fintech sector connectivity by linking UPI and Lanka Pay.

He also talked about connecting the energy grids between the two nations to enhance energy security and reliability, asserting that energy security is crucial for the developmental journey of both India and Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister Modi emphasised that partnership for progress and development is one of the strongest pillars of the India-Sri Lanka bilateral relationship.

“Our vision is to take development to everyone, leaving none behind,” he said.Modi stated that the projects implemented with Indian assistance in Sri Lanka have touched the lives of the people.

Several projects related to housing, water, health, and livelihood support have been completed in the Northern Province, he said and expressed delight in extending support for the upgradation of the Kankesanthurai Harbour.

“Be it the restoration of railway lines connecting north and south, construction of the iconic Jaffna Cultural Centre, the rollout of emergency ambulance service all across Sri Lanka, or the multi-speciality hospital at Dick Oya, we are working with a vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas,” Modi said.

Speaking about the G20 Summit hosted by India in September, the prime minister highlighted India’s vision of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam which has been welcomed by the international community.

He underlined that a part of this vision is giving priority to sharing progress and prosperity with the neighbouring nations.

Modi also mentioned the launch of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor during the G20 summit and stated that it is an important connectivity corridor that will create a massive economic impact on the whole region.

“The people of Sri Lanka will also benefit from it as multimodal connectivity between our two countries is strengthened,” he said.The Prime Minister also spoke about working towards resuming the ferry service between Rameswaram and Talaimannar.

“India remains committed to working closely with Sri Lanka to further strengthen our bilateral ties for the mutual benefit of our people,” the prime minister said.

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