India PM arrives in Sri Lanka for UN Buddhist celebration

The PM, at the Bandarnaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BIMCH) will deliver a celebratory address on the occasion of International Vesak Day, the biggest festival of Buddhists, on May 12.

Thereafter, he will be attend a private dinner with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena at "Temple Trees", the latter's official residence.

Announcing the sectors for cooperation, Modi said India-Sri Lanka ties will be strengthened in the fields of energy, agriculture, transport, culture, water, education, health, power, culture, shelter, sports and human resources, according to Hindustan Times.

The Indian Prime Minister said that the menace of terrorism in the region "is a concrete manifestation of this destructive emotion".

"Sri Lanka today is the 3rd highest exporter of tea and it is possible only because of your hard work", he said. Sri Lanka is finalising a plan to lease 80 per cent of its Hambantota port to China for 99 years. He said Gandhi ji had visited Sri Lanka to spread the message of peace. It was officially recognised by the United Nations in 1999 and then Sri Lanka had played a very important role and India too had supported the Sri Lankan initiative.

"The visit assumes importance because of our common Buddhist heritage that spans over centuries", Panda added, while briefing the media about Prime Minister Modi's itinerary over the day. PM Modi said these flights will allow his "Tamil brothers" to visit the spiritual land of Kashi Vishwanath. The Indian PM's visit will be one of strategic significance in the tug of war between India and China to control the Indian Ocean.

"This project is part of our development cooperation project since 2005 in which over $2.6 billion has been committed out of which $450 million have been grants", Panda said.

The remarks came as China gets ready to host Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wicikramasinghe for the high-profile silk road summit on May 14-15.

He said both, "Sri Lanka and India are working to create a peaceful region and that coincides with the goals of the United Nations of making harmony in the world".

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