Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka to attend the biggest Buddhist festival ‘Vesak Day’ as its chief guest. The ‘International Day of Vesak’ celebrations, to be held in Colombo from May 12 to 14, will include an International Buddhist Conference in which over 400 delegates from more than 100 countries will participate. Vesak, the most important day in the Buddhist calendar, marks the commemoration of Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing away.
Briefing reporters on Modi’s visit, Joint Secretary (Indian Ocean Region) in the External Affairs Ministry, Sanjay Panda said no formal talks have been scheduled, but Modi will be interacting with the Sri Lankan leaders. “We do not envisage any formal talks but he will be interacting with the leaders and review the relationship in its entirety. Nothing is specifically earmarked for discussion during the current visit,” he said.
During the two-day trip, his second to Sri Lanka since becoming the Prime Minister, Modi will also visit Kandy in the Central Province, which is famous for production of Ceylon Tea. Panda said India’s ties with Sri Lanka have witnessed qualitative transformation in the last few years and both the countries are willing to strengthen and diversify the relationship further. “We feel our destinies are intertwined. We hope the Prime Minister’s visit will be able to provide further momentum in the ties between the two countries,” Panda said. Modi had travelled to Sri Lanka in March, 2015.
His visit to Sri Lanka comes close on the heels of a trip by his counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe here. During that visit, the two countries had signed a pact to boost economic ties as Modi and Wickremesinghe discussed a range of bilateral issues and matters of mutual interest. The pact provided a framework to identify the infrastructure projects where India could invest.