Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday met visiting Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and discussed implementation of various initiatives and economic cooperation projects decided by the leadership of the two countries. However, the proposed Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) between Sri Lanka and India was not on the agenda, foreign office sources said in Colombo.
Jaishankar is on a three-day visit to the country and he will meet senior officials and trade delegations. Earlier, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said the aim of Jaishankar’s visit to Colombo is to discuss economic cooperation and to pursue various initiatives discussed between the leadership of the two countries.
“Foreign Secretary is going to Colombo over this weekend to discuss economic cooperation with Sri Lanka and to pursue various initiatives and ideas discussed during the two high-level visits of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe,” he had said in New Delhi.
After Sirisena’s ascent to power, there have been several high-level visits by Indian and Sri Lankan leaders to each other’s countries starting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s in March 2015, which marked the first visit to the island nation by an Indian leader since 1987. Sirisena has twice visited India since January 2015. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also made his first overseas visit to India after assuming office.
During his trip to New Delhi, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had said the ETCA will be entered by the end of this year. Opposition parties in Sri Lanka have stepped up their anti-ETCA campaign since last week dubbing it as an arrangement which will deny Sri Lankans employment opportunities