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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to arrive in India

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to arrive in India

New Delhi: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena will arrive in India Sunday on his first foreign trip after assuming charge during which he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discuss key issues including peace and reconciliation process in his country.

The 63-year-old leader will hold talks with the Indian leadership on February 16 and will travel to the Buddhist pilgrimage site Bodh Gaya and a temple in Tirupati on Feb 17. The Sri Lankan President will return on Feb 18.

Briefing the media on the Presidential visit, the Spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi had said both the countries were looking at "substantive talks" in terms of announcement of agreements and frameworks.

All bilateral matters including economy, peace, and Sri Lankan reconciliation process, which is an important issue, will be discussed during Mr Sirisena's visit, he said.

India has been hoping that the new government will develop Sri Lanka on the "foundation of genuine and effective reconciliation" creating harmony between all sections there.

Mr Sirisena, who dethroned Mahinda Rajapaksa after a bitter presidential poll on January 9, has indicated that he wants to have closer relations with India.

He will also meet President Pranab Mukherjee, who will host a banquet in his honour.

New Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera also visited India on his first foreign trip soon after assuming charge last month during which he held talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj.

During Mr Samaraweera's visit, the two countries agreed to re-engage on repatriation of refugees from India as both sides held substantive talks on crucial matters including the political reconciliation process and the continuing fishermen issue.

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