Oct 16, Colombo: The High Commissioner of India Gopal Baglay called on the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on 15th October 2020 to follow up on implementation of the decisions taken in the high level interaction last month between the Prime Ministers of the two countries.
This was their first meeting after the Virtual Bilateral Summit (VBS) between the Prime Ministers of India and Sri Lanka held on 26th September 2020.
During the meeting held at Temple Trees last evening, several ongoing projects and areas where cooperation could be established in the future were discussed.
It was revealed that the leaders of the two countries were very happy about the first conference as a bilateral discussion, which was held over the internet, after the re-election of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister.
Referring to the tone set by the two leaders in the VBS for expanding existing mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in a number of areas, the High Commissioner sought the guidance of Prime Minister Rajapaksa for further steps, including in the spheres of priority to Sri Lanka, the High Commission said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the provision of safe drinking water to all as well as sanitation are some of the key issues that need to be addressed.
The High Commissioner mentioned to the Prime Minister that he and his colleagues in the High Commission had fruitful discussions in the days since VBS with a number of senior members of Sri Lanka’s Council of Ministers, including in the areas of economy, connectivity, power & energy, agriculture & animal husbandry, development cooperation, education &capacity building, water & sanitation, health& pharmaceuticals, culture and people-to-people relations.
In the context of the Government of Sri Lanka’s high priority attached to water, sanitation, agriculture and manufacturing, the High Commissioner referred to India’s recent experience in these areas and stated that India was ready for developing further bilateral cooperation in accordance with Sri Lanka’s requirements.
The Indian High Commissioner focused on several projects that could be implemented in collaboration between the two countries, including water needs in schools, sanitation facilities, rainwater harvesting, construction of toilets in areas with difficult living conditions and new projects that could turn waste into compost.
Mr. Rajapaksa said the government has paid close attention to the lack of safe drinking water in some parts of the country and the treatment of chronic kidney disease.
The Indian High Commissioner expressed confidence that the two countries would be able to work together with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Jal Jeevan Mission - Water for Life" program, a Government of India initiative aimed at providing drinking water to every household.
He responded positively to the suggestions of the Prime Minister Rajapaksa for Indian investment in research and manufacturing in Sri Lanka, including in pharmaceutical sector.
Recalling the importance attached by Prime Minister Modi to promoting people-to-people relations between the two countries, the High Commissioner stressed in this context the significance of the grant assistance of US $ 15 million announced by Prime Minister Modi during VBS for promoting Buddhist ties between the two countries. He mentioned that details of its implementation are being discussed with the Sri Lankan authorities concerned.
High Commissioner Baglay stressed the significance of facilitating mutually beneficial trade and investment between India and Sri Lanka, which are close maritime neighbors and friends and thanked the Prime Minister for his continued guidance for expeditious implementation of mutually beneficial projects.