Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said that Sri Lanka is looking at forging a closer relationship with India, noting that they are trying for electricity, renewable energy, tourism and port shipping connectivity.
Ali Sabry in an exclusive interview with ANI emphasised that India is one of the fastest growing largest economies.
“It is a big economy. India is growing and that growth path is very important. Together with that, the region must grow,” he said.
Ali Sabry further stressed that Sri Lanka has seen a big opportunity in India. “We have seen a big opportunity here, that’s the idea. I’m sure we will be able to do that and that will be better for both countries.”
He said that Sri Lanka wants a good region with prosperity, peace, harmony, and among all, “we want a good and prosperous neighbour.”
Ali Sabry further praised India and added, “India is going that path. We want to go with them.”
While talking about the current situation in the country and India’s assistance, Ali Sabry highlighted that the situation is much better compared to last year.
“Inflation has come down, the Rupee has stabilised, reserves have risen, and tourism has increased… It is India who provided us with various forms of assistance worth 3.9 billion,” he added.
Moreover, he expressed his gratitude and said that India can proudly claim a great part of the credit that Sri Lanka has achieved today.
Underscoring his meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Ali Sabry expressed his happiness to meet him and said that the two Ministers had a small conversation on ways to strengthen the India-Sri Lanka relationship.
“I have invited him to visit Sri Lanka for the IORA. He promised that he would try his level best to make it and to take the country forward,” he said.
Last year, India supplied over 270,000 MT of fuel to Sri Lanka so far to help ease the power crisis in the island country which was witnessing acute power cuts.
Moreover, Sri Lanka also signed a USD 1 billion credit line with India for procurement of food, medicines and other essential items, amid the island nation’s worsening economic crisis. The agreement was signed between the State Bank of India (SBI) and the Government of Sri Lanka, during Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksha’s two-day visit to India.
Sri Lankan FM Ali Sabry on fishermen issue with India
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said that India and Sri Lanka need to sit and talk to discuss the fishermen issue between the two nations. He said that the two nations will be able to find a solution if they sit and negotiate.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, Ali Sabry noted that the two nations have a history of sitting, negotiating and resolving problems, “just like in a family.”
Asked about the fishermen issue between Sri Lanka and India, Ali Sabry said, “We need to sit and talk about it. I think India and Sri Lanka have a history of sitting, negotiating and resolving problems. It does come just like in a family.”
“So, we are very confident that if we can sit and talk about it and find a solution which is win-win, which is good for Sri Lanka, good for India and good for our relationship. We also have a lot of pressure from our fishermen, particularly from the Tamil-speaking fishermen in the North and East because that’s their livelihood. But, similarly, it’s also a livelihood for the people in some of the fishermen in your country. I’m sure we will sit, we’ll negotiate, we’ll discuss this and find a solution which is acceptable to all,” he added.
On August 29, ten Indian Fishermen who were allegedly arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy and were later released by the Sri Lankan Government, reached Chennai Airport. This comes after the Sri Lankan Court issued an order for their release and asked security forces to initiate the process.
On August 22, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin urged the Union Government for “immediate intervention” to bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice.
In a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, MK Stalin said, “I want to bring to your attention an issue of grave concern that demands immediate intervention. Recent reports have highlighted an increased number of attacks on Tamil fishermen by Sri Lankan nationals, and on August 21, 2023, alone, nine instances were reported. These incidents are causing serious harm to their morale and impact livelihood severely,” CM MK Stalin said in his letter.
MK Stalin said that the attackers inflicted physical harm upon Indian citizens and subjected them to theft, leaving them helpless and distressed.
“The livelihood of our fishermen is intricately tied to the oceans and these recurring acts of violence not only jeopardise their lives and well-being but also hinder their ability 10 sustain their families and communities. Such incidents undermine the spirit of peaceful coexistence and violate their fundamental rights and the principles of international maritime law,” TN CM MK Stalin said in his letter.
The Chief Minister urged the External Affairs Minister to take necessary steps to “request the Sri Lankan authorities to take swift and decisive action to identify and bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice.”