PM Modi holds talks with Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday held wide-ranging talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa, covering the entire expanse of bilateral ties and with a focus on further expanding cooperation in key areas.

In his opening remarks at a virtual bilateral summit, Modi said he was confident that the massive electoral victory of the ruling party in Sri Lanka backed by the Rajapaksa government’s policies will facilitate deeper cooperation between the two countries.

“An opportunity has come to begin a new chapter in India-Sri Lanka ties after your party’s electoral victory. People from both the countries are looking at us with new hope and expectations,” Modi said.

Rajapaksa was sworn in as Sri Lankan prime minister for a fresh term on August 9 after his party, the Sri Lanka People’s Front, secured a two-third majority in the parliamentary polls.

Modi said India gives priority to its relations with Sri Lanka as he mentioned his government’s neighbourhood-first policy as well as SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) doctrine.

It was Prime Minister Modi’s first such virtual bilateral engagement with a leader of a neighbouring country. For Rajapaksa, it was the first diplomatic engagement with a leader of a foreign country after he was sworn in as prime minister.

It was learnt that the two leaders deliberated on a host of issues like ways to further deepen overall defence and trade ties as well as expansion of existing cooperation in several key areas.

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