Doval meets Gotabaya, pledges $50 mn Indian aid

India has pledged a $50 million security assistance to Sri Lanka as National Security Advisor Ajit Doval called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and discussed a range of bilateral issues, including strengthening cooperation in defence, intelligence sharing and maritime security.

Doval arrived in Colombo on Saturday on a previously unannounced visit during which he also met several foreign diplomats and discussed important issues of mutual interest.

“A very cordial discussion was held with National Security Advisor of India, Ajit Doval today. Strengthening of bilateral cooperation on national security, intelligence sharing, maritime security & fostering of regional collaboration, were some of the key points of discussion,” President Rajapaksa tweeted on Saturday.

The President’s office said Doval pledged that India will provide $50 million to Sri Lanka to help the country purchase equipment for its security forces.
During the talks, India also pledged to provide assistance to Sri Lanka with technology on intelligence gathering, The Sunday Times newspaper reported.

The President’s office said President Rajapaksa and Doval also discussed improving bilateral relations and strengthening cooperation between the armed forces and coastguard agencies of the two countries and maritime security.

Doval pointed out the importance of reviewing the intelligence related to the maritime zone between Sri Lanka, the Maldives and India.
He said other regional countries should also be brought into this process as observers, the paper said, quoting the President’s office.

Doval has become the second highest ranking Indian official to visit Colombo after Rajapaksa assumed office in mid November.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was the first foreign dignitary to visit Sri Lanka soon after Rajapaksa’s election victory, amid China’s growing influence in the island nation. Rajapaksa chose New Delhi  for his first overseas visit after becoming the President.

India’s pledge for enhancing defence cooperation comes days after Russia said it will assist Sri Lanka, which is seeking ways to consolidate its regional position through balanced diplomacy and attracting foreign investments, to improve its defence capacity.

“We have been providing Sri Lanka cooperation in defence and we will continue to do so,” Russian Foreign Minister Serge Lavarov said here on Tuesday.  — PTI


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