New Delhi: Close on the heels of Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla having paid a visit to Sri Lanka, Indian Army chief Gen M M Naravane is now on a four-day visit to the island nation.
On Wednesday, he met Sri Lanka’s top civilian and military leadership including Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and discussed steps for further enhancing the excellent defence cooperation between the two neighbouring countries.
"COAS (army chef) called on PM Rajapaksa. Significance of strong defence ties was stressed. There were focussed discussions on enhancing existing ties between Armed Forces of India and Sri Lanka," a tweet from Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka said.
Gen Naravane, who arrived here on Tuesday (Oct 12), at the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart Gen Shavendra Silva, also called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.
Sri Lanka's leading role as a partner in security was appreciated including within the Colombo Security Conclave initiative, the Indian High Commission said.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed his appreciation for the assistance provided by the Indian Armed Forces to Sri Lanka throughout the years, especially in the area of training.
These interactions have been happening when China-Sri Lanka ties have come under stress due tocontroversy over Sri Lanka rejecting 'organic fertilizer' from China. The spokesperson at the Chinese Embassy in Colombo, Luo Chong while talking to a local media sounded defensive. "The strategic partnership between China and Sri Lanka has its historical root and strength. The bilateral friendship and cooperation based on mutual respect is highly strong and resilient,” he said.
Gen Naravane also called on Foreign Secretary Admiral (Prof.) Jayanath Colombage.
Gen Naravane also visited the Army Headquarters where he carried out Turnout Inspection and received a Guard of Honour. He met with Gen Shavendra Silva and discussed issues related to boosting bilateral defence cooperation between two countries.
The General also laid a wreath at the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) War Memorial here and paid tributes to the bravehearts of the Indian Army who laid down their lives during the Peace Keeping Operations in Sri Lanka.
Gen Naravane had served in the IPKF in Sri Lanka''s north and east from 1987-1990.
His wife, Veena Naravane, visited ‘Mihindu Seth Medura’, a facility for disabled War Heroes of Sri Lankan Armed Forces.
India and Sri Lanka last week began a 12-day mega military exercise.
Recently, Foreign Secretary Shringla also during his visit had met several top leaders of Sri Lanka.