India PM arrives in Sri Lanka for UN Buddhist celebration

Marco Green
May 13, 2017

Modi will also visit the up-country region of Sri Lanka where he will inaugurate the Dickya Hospital that has been built with Indian assistance and will have an interaction with the Tamil community.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking on the occasion of International Vesak Day celebrations on Friday announced the operation of direct flight of Air India from Colombo to Varanasi, beginning from August.

Meanwhile, Rajapaksa backers called for the hoisting of black flags in protest of Modi's visit for allegedly seeking to "colonize" Sri Lanka, a move that drew the presidential ire.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - India's prime minister emphasized common heritage with Sri Lanka on Friday as he tries to woo the island neighbor that's become an important cog in China's plans for control of the Indian Ocean.

Modi further said Buddhism's message of peace could be a guiding force during these violent times.

Dwelling on the issue of peace, Modi said that the biggest challenge for sustainable world peace is from mindsets rooted in hate and violence. Modi said that he believes that both India and Sri Lanka are at a moment of great opportunity in its relationship.

"The menace of terrorism in our region is a concrete manifestation of this destructive emotion", he said, apparently referring to Pakistan, which is accused of aiding and training terrorists who carry out attacks inside India.

"It is my honour to join these celebrations with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe".

India had always considered its smaller neighbour to be within its sphere of influence but watched Sri Lanka drift closer to China under former strongman President Mahinda Rajapakse.

"What I can tell you is that China and Sri Lanka enjoy traditional friendship". PM Modi said these flights will allow his "Tamil brothers" to visit the spiritual land of Kashi Vishwanath.

"Health & wellbeing of people of Sri Lanka - a shared priority".

A 1987 accord between India and Sri Lanka provides that their territories not be used for activities deemed prejudicial to each other's unity, integrity and security.

"This project is part of our development cooperation project since 2005 in which over $2.6 billion has been committed out of which $450 million have been grants", Panda said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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