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Sri Lanka PM Rajapaksa to visit India on February 7

Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa will commence a four-day state visit to India and include discussions on some key fields including trade, defense, and maritime defense assistance, his office stated here on Thursday. The visit, beginning February 7, will be the Rajapaksa senior’s first abroad visit because his brother Gotabaya was named President in November. He will have a conference with President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and S Jaishankar. ‘The scheduled meetings lines will build on the strong relationship that already exists between the two countries,’ Mahinda’s office said in a statement. Mahinda hopes to finalise the implementation of the USD 450 million lines of credit pledged by Prime Minister Modi to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his visit to New Delhi in November, according to the statement. ‘To enhance engagement in sub-regional maritime security cooperation, the two delegations are expected to discuss key areas under the defense and maritime security initiatives that include the Sri Lanka-India annual defense dialogue and the trilateral maritime security cooperation with India and the Maldives,’ it said. Rajapaksa also intends to visit the religious sites of Varanasi, Sarnath, Bodhgaya and Tirupathi, it said. Two Tamil ministers in the Rajapaksa government — Douglas Devananda from the north and Arumugam Thondaman from the central tea plantation districts — are expected to be in the 10-member delegation, the statement added.

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