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High expectations in Sri Lanka from PM Modi's visit

High expectations in Sri Lanka from PM Modis visit

Colombo: Sri Lanka has a "lot of expectations" from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit next week, top political leaders on Saturday while highlighting that a bilateral trip by an Indian premier was long due.

"There are lot of expectations from Modi's visit," R Sampanthan, Leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Sri Lanka's main Tamil party, said talking about the two-day visit of Modi scheduled to begin on March 13.

Asked about the expectations from the visit, the Tamil moderate leader said he is looking forward to the trip.

"The visit by our President (Maithripala Sirisena) to India went well. We are now looking forward to Modi's visit," he told PTI refusing to get into what his demands will be.

The political reconciliation process after the war with LTTE got over is an important issue for the Tamil parties. The new Sri Lankan government has promised the Indian leadership of taking everybody along without any discrimination on the reconciliation issue.

Former Lankan Army chief, who successfully led the war against LTTE, and political leader Gen Sarath Fonseka said the visit by an Indian Prime Minister should have happened much earlier.

He thanked India for the continued support to Sri Lanka and said the "non-aligned" stand of the two countries should be maintained.

Talking about Modi's visit, he told PTI, "It should have taken place years ago. 28 years is a long time but we are glad it is happening."

Modi's visit from March 13-14 will be the first bilateral trip by an Indian Prime Minister since Rajiv Gandhi visited the island in 1987 to sign the Indo-Lanka Accord.

Fonseka said that the Indo-Lanka ties had seen some troubled period during the previous regime of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

"There were lot of deals that were done with Chinese governments manipulating various norms. One will have to wait and see if these deals were good for our country," he said, adding that Sri Lanka has historic ties with India. India had been concerned about the increasing Chinese activities in Lanka and especially after Chinese submarines docked in Lankan ports.

Asked if he was disappointed that India could not help militarily while the war with LTTE was on, Fonseka, who is now the leader of Democratic Party, said it was not so. "India gave us moral support, psychological support. It was more than enough for us. We understood the problems that the then Indian government was facing as regard to sentiments in Tamil Nadu," he said.

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