After Maldvies, PM Modi to visit Sri Lanka today; will be first foreign visitor after Easter Sunday attacks

New Delhi: After touring to Maldives in his maiden foreign visit of second term, Prime Minister Modi will set off for Sri Lanka, the neighbouring island nation, on Sunday, becoming the first ever foreign dignitary to visit it after the Easter Sunday carnage that killed over 250 people, including 11 Indians.

In his brief visit to the island nation, Modi will hold discussions with President Maithripala Sirisena, according to the president’s office here.

This will be Modi’s third visit to Sri Lanka. Earlier, he visited the country in 2015 and 2017.

“The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to arrive in Colombo on Sunday for a visit limited to a few hours. The re-elected Indian leader will be on transit from the Maldives,” president Sirisena’s office said.

The Indian Prime Minister who will arrive at 11 am is to attend an official luncheon hosted by the Sri Lankan President Sirisena and hold bilateral talks.

In New Delhi, the External Affairs Ministry said that Prime Minister Modi is visiting the country with a very clear message of solidarity and signalling our confidence in the Sri Lankan government in overcoming the tragedy.

Asked whether India will help Sri Lanka deal with the scourge of terrorism, the ministry said on Thursday it was ready for any assistance to any country of the region.

Sri Lanka was hit by a wave of bombings on April 21. The attacks came despite prior intelligence warnings from India. Sri Lankan police said they have made elaborate security arrangements for the visit, including traffic movement restrictions during the day.

Ahead of leaving for the two countries, PM said: “ I am confident that my visit to the Maldives and Sri Lanka will further strengthen our close and cordial ties with our maritime neighbours, in line with our ‘Neighbourhood-First Policy’ and the vision of security and growth for all in the region.

In a pre-departure statement, he said his visit to Sri Lanka is to express India’s solidarity with the government and the people of the island nation in the wake of the “terrible terrorist attacks” there on April 21.

“The people of India stand firmly with the people of Sri Lanka, who suffered great agony and destruction in the wake of the horrific terror attacks on Easter. We fully support Sri Lanka in the fight against terror,” he said.