Mutually beneficial Indo-Lanka ties, our aim – Ali Sabry | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Mutually beneficial Indo-Lanka ties, our aim – Ali Sabry

30 July, 2023

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to India aims to capitalise on the development opportunities in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), which stands as one of the world’s largest emerging economic regions, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, said.

“Global progress necessitates collaboration among nations, and every developed country has advanced through regional partnerships. By fostering Indo-Ceylon relations in a mutually beneficial manner, President Wickremesinghe’s visit seeks to pave the way for achieving Sri Lanka’s development expectations.

We firmly believe that fostering a strong and understanding relationship with India, a close and long-term ally of Sri Lanka, will yield significant benefits for both nations and the broader region,” Minister Sabry told the Sunday Observer.

The Minister said: “The consensus is that approximately two-thirds of the world’s economic growth in the next two or three decades will be centred in the Asia Pacific region. Moreover, it is widely recognised on the international stage that India and China will play a prominent role in leading this growth.

President Wickremesinghe’s perspective is grounded in the belief that the vast development opportunities within the IOR should be harnessed and leveraged. Drawing lessons from the development of the European Union (EU) and the progress seen in the Middle Eastern (ME) countries, he sees the potential for the IOR to follow a similar path of growth and prosperity through collaboration and strategic partnerships.

The development of both China and the American region provides valuable examples of how strategic utilisation of development opportunities and regional partnerships can lead to significant progress and growth. President Wickremesinghe’s aspiration to capitalise on the development spaces within the IOR aligns with this approach.

President Wickremesinghe undertook a two-day official visit to India, engaging in several significant discussions. His schedule included fruitful meetings with Indian Foreign Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, focusing on strengthening bilateral ties and collaboration in defence matters. The President also held constructive discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, exploring avenues to enhance economic cooperation and further strengthen the relationship between the two nations.

During the past economic crisis, India played a significant role in providing essential assistance, particularly leading negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to offer financial relief. Now, it is crucial for us to complete the debt optimisation activities. Continuing to receive India’s support, the President expressed gratitude to the Indian Prime Minister and the Government for their unwavering assistance in these endeavours.


During the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations, discussions revolved around enhancing economic, social, and people-to-people ties between the two countries. Sri Lanka requires investment for its progress, and finding markets through these investments is crucial. It is believed that collaborative efforts between India and Sri Lanka will result in significant advantages for both nations.

During the discussion with the Prime Minister of India, the two leaders explored the essential groundwork required to reach agreements, not only at the Government level but also between the private sectors of the two countries.

The possibility of adopting the Indian Rupee (INR) as a valid currency in Sri Lanka was examined, and plans are expected to be implemented in the future. The primary objective is to offer convenience to Indian tourists visiting Sri Lanka. India has previously employed a similar approach with Singapore, resulting in significant benefits for both countries.

Considerable attention was given to maintaining a strong and positive relationship between India and Sri Lanka. The existing daily Alliance Air flights between Chennai and Jaffna (Palali) Airport were acknowledged, and there are aspirations to initiate a passenger boat service in the future as well.

During the discussions, there were inquiries made regarding the possibility of establishing deeper internal airline networks.

During the discussions, the focus was on developing the tourism sector and enhancing cooperation. Prime Minister Modi highlighted the potential of promoting cruise tourism as a means of strengthening the ties between the two nations in the tourism domain. One cruise liner is already operating cruises to KKS. This area has the capacity to attract Indian tourists, and there are hopes for a significant revival in tourism in Sri Lanka.

At present, the South Indian region is experiencing rapid development, and both nations’ leaders have acknowledged the significance of establishing port connections. This step is essential for Sri Lanka to capitalise on the economic growth occurring in regions like Tamil Nadu (TN), Andhra, and Telangana.

Leaders from both countries engaged in discussions to determine the best approach for establishing these port relationships, thereby fostering increased trade, investment, and mutual prosperity between India and Sri Lanka. The leaders reached an agreement to make a decision after thorough discussions and careful examination of the facts. Following extensive deliberations involving all relevant parties, both sides emphasised the importance of presenting the matter to the Parliament for further consideration and arriving at a final decision.

Ambitious target

By the year 2030, Sri Lanka envisions meeting 70 percent of its national electricity requirements through renewable energy sources. This ambitious target is a significant step towards sustainable and eco-friendly energy production. Once achieved, there will be an opportunity to create a market for renewable energy exports, opening avenues to earn substantial revenue through this sector.

A key topic of focus was on creating a conducive environment for exporting solar power and wind power from Sri Lanka. Deliberations were extensive in finding solutions to promote and facilitate the export of renewable energy. As a result of these discussions, a memorandum of understanding was agreed upon, signalling a commitment to collaborate in this area.

Both countries explored opportunities for collaboration in Green Hydrogen and Green Ammonia using new technology. Acquiring technical knowledge in agriculture, animal husbandry, and milk production was also a focal point, leading to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate knowledge exchange in these crucial fields.

India’s remarkable progress in digitisation was acknowledged during the discussions, and Sri Lanka expressed interest in seeking technical assistance from India to accelerate its own digitisation efforts.

Additionally, the cooperation between universities in both countries was strengthened, aiming to foster academic collaboration and knowledge exchange. There were inquiries into the possibility of investing in establishing a branch of a major Indian University in Sri Lanka.

Around 200 years ago, the plantation Tamil community of Indian origin arrived in this country. India has pledged to execute various programs to support their progress, with a willingness to invest INR 750 million for this cause. Additionally, discussions were held regarding the potential establishment of a full-fledged university in Nuwara Eliya, and negotiations on this matter took place between the two delegations.


Special focus was given to addressing the issues faced by the fishing community, with the President particularly emphasising the potential cessation of bottom trawling in the Northern region.

A request was made to the Indian Government to facilitate opportunities for Sri Lankan fishermen to access areas beyond the Indian border. The resolution of these challenges relies on both parties collaborating and engaging in ongoing discussions.

Both parties reached a mutual agreement on ensuring the safety of the entire IOR and collectively working together towards this goal. They committed to taking action that preserves mutual security and do not pose threats to one another.