National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who met Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday, discussed key bilateral issues including Indian investments and regional security, in a one-on-one discussion that comes amid a heightening geopolitical contest in the island nation.
Following the meeting on Saturday evening, Mr. Rajapaksa tweeted: “Had a fruitful discussion with Shri @Ajitdovalkumar, NSA #India this evening. National Sec, Sec in the Indian Ocean, new Indian investments, continuation of infrastructure proj. & strengthening bilateral relations between #SriLanka & #India were the areas discussed at the meeting.”
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the 4th National Security Adviser-level Maritime Security Cooperation discussion among India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Mr. Doval’s meeting with President Rajapaksa spanned over an hour, official sources told The Hindu.
It assumes significance amid Colombo’s heightened diplomatic engagement with Beijing, focussed on Sri Lanka’s economic recovery since COVID-19 struck, including a request for $1 billion in loans this year.
Key terminal project
The discussion also comes amid persisting resistance, from some aligned to the Rajapaksa government and from port worker unions, to Indian involvement in developing the East Container Terminal at the Colombo Port that Sri Lanka, India and Japan had agreed to jointly develop, when the former Sirisena administration was in power. India has been keen on getting the project — at the strategically located Colombo Port — going.
Mr. Doval called on Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and held talks with Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi.