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SOURCE: ANI

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will pay an official visit to the Maldives and Sri Lanka this week. He will sign agreements related to the bilateral development cooperation and launch several key India-supported projects in Male, according to the statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs.

According to the statement, Jaishankar will visit to Maldives and Sri Lanka from January 18-20. During his visit to Maldives, Jaishankar would call on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and will also hold discussions with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid.

“EAM’s visit will see the signing of agreements related to the bilateral development cooperation, ground-breaking/ inauguration/ handing-over and launch of a number of key India-supported projects that will contribute to the socio-economic development of the Maldives,” the statement reads.

Regarding Sri Lanka’s tour, the ministry stated that Jaishankar’s visit will follow his earlier trips to the bankrupt country in January 2021 and March 2022. Sri Lanka is a close friend and neighbour, and India has stood with the people of Sri Lanka at all times.

“During the visit, EAM will call on President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and also hold discussions with Minister of Foreign Affairs MUM Ali Sabry on the entire gamut of close India-Sri Lanka partnership and steps to strengthen it in all spheres,” the statement stated.

“Both Maldives and Sri Lanka are India’s key maritime neighbours in the Indian Ocean Region and occupy a special place in the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and ‘Neighbourhood First’. EAM’s visit is testimony to the importance that India attaches to its close and friendly relations with the Maldives and Sri Lanka,” the statement added.

India and Sri Lanka share a good relationship. Under the “Neighbourhood First Policy,” India had extended aid worth USD 3.9 billion to help Sri Lanka sustain itself in face of the acute economic and financial crisis and meet its immediate needs such as medicines, cooking gas, oil and food items, Sri Lanka based news publication News 19 reported.

In February 2022, India in order to help Sri Lanka overcome its fuel shortage, signed an agreement for the supply of petroleum products worth USD 500 million from the Indian Oil Company through a credit line.

This was expanded by an additional USD 200 million worth of petroleum products in April 2022.

India’s EXIM bank and State bank of India, for the import of essential commodities, extended export credit facilities worth USD 1,500 million to Sri Lanka. India also concluded a USD 400 million agreement with Sri Lanka to help preserve the country’s forex reserves.