New Delhi: A Virtual Bilateral Summit was held between Prime Minister of India, H.E. Mr. Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, H.E. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa on 26 September 2020, hosted by India.
The Virtual Bilateral Summit was Prime Minister Modi’s first such virtual engagement with a neighbouring country and also Prime Minister Rajapaksa’s first diplomatic engagement with a leader of a foreign country after he was sworn in as PM on 09 August 2020.
India- Sri Lanka bilateral relations are marked by regular high level exchanges. Such exchanges have provided momentum to mutual cooperation and ties which are multi-dimensional in nature and cut across spheres such as commerce, security, defence, culture, tourism etc.
PM Modi has maintained regular interaction with both the President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. The Virtual Bilateral Summit is preceded by the State visits of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to India in November 2019 and February 2020 respectively. Since then also, leaders have kept in close touch and spoken to each other on telephone on several occasions including in the context of cooperation to tackle the health and economic impact of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the election victory of PM Mahinda Rajapaksa led Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), PM Modi was the first leader to congratulate Mr. Rajapaksa over telephone on 06 August 2020. PM Modi also sent congratulatory letters to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Most recently, Both President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa called PM on 17 September 2020 to wish him on his birthday. Earlier on 27 May 2020, Prime Minister Modi had spoken to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to congratulate him on having completed 50 years since first entering the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
A Virtual Bilateral Summit under challenging circumstances posed by COVID-19, testifies to the deep-rooted civilizational ties and shared heritage between the two neighbouring countries. This is also a reflection of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ approach and SAGAR doctrine.
The Virtual Bilateral Summit will give an opportunity to the two leaders to comprehensively review the broad framework of the bilateral relationship in the context of the time-tested friendly ties between the two countries and give broad political direction for a strengthened and deepened collaborative partnership on key issues of mutual interest.