COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s new Foreign Minister GL Peiris on Monday appreciated India’s “continued support” to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the $ 15 million offer to preserve and promote Buddhist cultural sites in the island nation.
During a meeting between Peiris and Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay here, the two sides stressed the crucial importance of the relations between Lanka and India which have stood the test of time as close neighbors and expressed their satisfaction with the current level of cooperation and have decided to increase bilateral relations in several sectors to even higher levels, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Peiris expressed his gratitude and India’s continued support to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, “he said.
He also thanked the Indian government “for providing emergency shipments of liquid oxygen from East Indian ports, even using Indian warships,” the ministry said.
According to the Indian High Commission in Colombo, 40 tons of oxygen arrived in Lanka from Chennai on Monday.
Over a four-day period between August 20 and 23, India sent 180 tons of oxygen to Lanka, he tweeted.
The discussion between Peiris and Baglay also focused on improving religious tourism.
“Foreign Minister Peiris also appreciated the Indian government’s offer of $ 15 million to preserve and promote Buddhist cultural sites in Sri Lanka and expressed interest in the prompt implementation of the offer,” said the press release.
The two sides also discussed the possibility of the early convening of the Indo-Lankan Joint Commission, which last met in 2016.
It was agreed that the six working groups reporting to the Joint Commission, covering specific areas such as education, science and technology, tourism, trade and investment, fisheries and the energy, should meet as soon as possible.
Fishing issues were also discussed and both parties agreed to seek a meaningful and pragmatic solution to the problems.
Indian assistance to develop the fishing ports in Lanka was greatly appreciated.
The discussion also focused on the establishment of pharmaceutical manufacturing factories by India in Sri Lanka.