Colombo, June 2, 2019: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to visit St. Anthony’s Church, venue of the first bomb blast site in Colombo, during his official visit to the island nation on June 9.
The Indian premier’s Sri Lanka visit was announced by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on May 31, a day after he attended Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi.
Modi will go to Sri Lanka after completing a trip to the Maldives, the Sri Lankan president told reporters.
“Prime Minister Modi’s visit is very important to us. We are neighbors and friends…We are eagerly awaiting his arrival,” Sirisena told a news conference on May 31 after his meeting with the Indian premier at Hyderabad House.
Sirisena also said that his country is eagerly waiting to welcome the Indian leader.
Earlier, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that Modi warmly thanked Sirisena for his gesture of attending the ceremony and for his good wishes. “He conveyed his government’s continued commitment to further foster friendly bilateral ties with Sri Lanka,” it added.
Modi’s Sri Lanka visit would highlight that for India “neighborhood first policy” is paramount.
Sirisena also said that the visit will further strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries, particularly in areas of trade and commerce.
India is currently cooperating with Colombo in the investigations being carried out on the Easter Sunday terrorist attack bombers and ISIS presence. New Delhi has also sent a team from its National Investigation Agency to Colombo to further assist them with the investigations and their findings.
Modi is expected to visit Maldives June 7-8 which will be his first bilateral visit after becoming the prime minister for a second term. However there is no official statement regarding the matter.