New Delhi: Newly-elected President Droupadi Murmu while extending felicitations to Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that India has been committed to assisting the people of Sri Lanka in overcoming the challenges posed by the economic crises. President Murmu in a letter to Sri Lanka President Wickremesinghe emphasized India’s neighbourhood first policy.
“As a close neighbour, India has been committed to assisting the people of Sri Lanka in overcoming the challenges posed by the economic crisis, guided by our ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” the letter read. President Murmu in the letter hoped that the long-standing bilateral partnership, between the two countries, based on the shared heritage and deep people-to-people ties, will further strengthen.
“I would like to thank you for your warm letter of congratulations on my assumption of the office of President of India. I take the opportunity to extend my felicitations to you on your recent election as the 8th President of Sri Lanka by the Parliament of Sri Lanka,” it added.
She also wished the Sri Lankan president success on his assuming the “responsibilities and challenges” in office at a “critical juncture for Sri Lanka.”
Earlier, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe extended his greetings to Droupadi Murmu on her assumption of office as the 15th President of India and said that he is looking forward to working closely with her towards this end.
“Her Excellency Smt. Droupadi Murmu President of the Republic of India Excellency, The Government and the people of Sri Lanka join me in extending warm felicitations on your assumption of office as the President of the Republic of India,” Wickremesinghe said in a statement.
He further said that Murmu’s appointment to the President’s post in India, which he termed as “one of the largest democracies”, is testimony to the trust and confidence the government and the people have placed in her calibre and political acumen.
Recalling India and Sri Lanka’s relationship he said that both countries “enjoy warm and longstanding relations which stemmed from people to people interactions over millennia and I am glad that the time-tested bonds of friendship between the two nations continue to be reinforced through ever-growing cooperation and support in many spheres of strategic interests that we share.”
“Your leadership offers fresh impetus to our joint endeavours to nurture and strengthen the cordial ties we enjoy and I look forward to working closely with you towards this end,” he further added.
India under its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, has always come forward to help the debt-ridden island country. Recently, India has extended 8 Lines of Credit (LOCs) to Sri Lanka amounting to USD 1,850.64 million in the past 10 years.
“Government of India has extended 8 Lines of Credit (LOCs) to Sri Lanka amounting to USD 1,850.64 million in sectors including railways, infrastructure, defence, renewable energy, petroleum and fertilizers in the past 10 years,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in a written reply to question put by DMK Lok Sabha MP S Ramalingam.
“In January 2022, India extended a USD 400 million currency swap to Sri Lanka under the SAARC Framework and deferred successive Asian Clearing Union (A.C.U.) settlements till July 6, 2022. A Line of Credit of USD 500 million was extended to Sri Lanka for importing fuel from India,” the minister added.
More than 25 tons of drugs and medical supplies which were donated by the government and people of India during the last two months are valued at close to SLR 370 million. This is in addition to the economic assistance of around USD 3.5 billion and supply of other humanitarian supplies such as rice, milk powder, and kerosene.
These humanitarian supplies are in continuation of the government of India’s ongoing support to the people of Sri Lanka in multiple forms such as financial assistance, forex support, material supply, and many more.
These efforts prove that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy which places people-to-people engagement is still active.
India is becoming a stronger and more mutually beneficial partner to Sri Lanka. Apart from assistance during the pandemic and fertilizer chaos, India is also donating basic products to the island nation.
Sri Lanka has been suffering a diesel shortage since February, which led to hours of daily power cuts. Presently, Sri Lanka is struggling with acute food and electricity shortages, forcing the country to seek help from its neighbours.
The recession is attributed to foreign exchange shortages caused by a clampdown on tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is unable to buy sufficient fuel and gas, while people are deprived of basic amenities as well.