Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday agreed to accelerate Indian-assisted development projects in Sri Lanka and discussed the possibility of promoting investments by India’s private sector.
The move assumes significance against the backdrop of China’s concerted push to develop infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka and other countries under its Belt and Road Initiative, which has led to criticism from the US about these countries being exposed to predatory loans.
The development projects figured when Modi spoke on telephone with Rajapaksa regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and its health and economic impacts in the region. Rajapaksa briefed Modi on steps being taken by his government to restart economic activity.
“In this context, both leaders agreed on the need to accelerate Indian-assisted development projects in Sri Lanka. They also discussed the possibilities of promoting investments and value-addition in Sri Lanka by the Indian private sector,” the external affairs ministry said.
Modi assured Rajapaksa that India will continue to provide all possible support to Sri Lanka for mitigating the impact of the pandemic.
The Indian prime minister also had a telephone conversation with his counterpart in Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, and discussed enhancing cooperation in several areas, including measures to support the financial sector of Mauritius.
Jugnauth conveyed his condolences for losses caused by cyclone Amphan in India and thanked Modi for sending the Indian warship INS Kesari to Mauritius with a consignment of medicines and a 14-member medical team to help health authorities fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kesari arrived in Port Louis on Saturday with a second consignment of essential medicines, which were received by health minister Kailesh Jagutpal. The shipment includes 10 tonnes of Ayurvedic medicines. The Indian medical assistance team that arrived on board Kesari includes a community medicine specialist, a pulmonologist and an anaesthesiologist. The supply of medicines and the team was arranged at the request of the government of Mauritius.
The first consignment of 13 tonnes of essential medicines from India, including 500,000 hydroxychloroquine tablets, arrived on a special Air India flight on April 15.
Modi conveyed his appreciation for the Covid-19 response mounted by Mauritius, which has resulted in no new cases being reported for several weeks. He said Mauritius should document its best practices, which will be helpful for other countries.