Updated: May 12, 2017 9:52:57 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka, is expected to address a public gathering of Indian-origin Tamils in the tea plantation region of central Sri Lanka. This holds special significance since Modi will be the first Indian leader to do so after Jawaharlal Nehru. The Prime Minister will also be inaugurating the 150-bed multi-specialty Dickoya Hospital which has been built with Indian assistance. A visit to the revered Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple is also on his schedule today as he attends Vesak Day celebrations in the island country.
Upon his arrival in the neighbouring SAARC nation on Thursday, PM Modi met President Maithripala Sirisena and Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, who had earlier visited India in April. In a reportedly unscheduled meeting, Modi also held talks with former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Tom Vadakkan told ANI that he hopes Prime Minister was “briefed well” on the issue of Tamil fishermen ahead of the visit. “The chronic issues of fishermen being detained by the Sri Lankan authorities, presence of Tamilians in the island and other such issues need to be properly handled. I hope the Prime Minister has been briefed well by the Ministry of External Affairs prior to his meetings with the leaders there,” he said.
India and Sri Lanka have labelled this meet as an apolitical one maintaining that no bilateral pacts will be signed during this visit. The two countries have been keen to project the visit’s focus as celebration of the civilisational ties between the two nations, including the common link to the Buddha. On Thursday, Modi took part in the traditional lamp lighting ceremony in Sri Lanka’s oldest Seema Malaka Buddhist temple, which is a part of more than a century old Gangaramayya temple.
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