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India, Lanka sign a host of deals beyond aid to its ailing economy

India, Lanka sign a host of deals beyond aid to its ailing economy

New Delhi: India signed a slew of deals with Sri Lanka on Monday during External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's visit to the nation.

The latest ones follow the finalisation of an agreement for Indian Dornier aircraft for the Sri Lankan Air Force.

As part of increasing both nations' cooperation in the Indian Ocean, Bharat Electronics Ltd will set up a Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) at the Sri Lankan Naval Headquarters in Colombo.

As per the MRCC agreement, a maritime rescue sub-centre will come up at Hambantota where China runs Sri Lanka's second largest port.

The MRCC network could expand Sri Lanka's search and rescue operations, improving direct communications requiring India's help. Last year, the Indian Coast Guard helped out two ships that went up in flames in Sri Lankan waters, according to Indian Express.

Minister S Jaishankar who met Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa singed a host of agreements including the Memorandum of Understanding for MRCC.

India will set up a hybrid solar and wind farm in the three islands off Jaffna. Sri Lanka had earlier cancelled a Chinese project for the same after Delhi's objection to it on security grounds. The islands are very close to Rameswaram on the Tamil Nadu coastline, according to Indian Express.

For the maintenance of Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka, India will allocate $15 million. Also, both nations decided on collaboration between the Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service and the Colombo-based Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute.

Aside from signing bilateral deals, Jaishankar is participating in the ministerial meet of regional grouping of the BIMSTEC hosted by Sri Lanka on March 30. Others of the group include Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is currently undergoing its worst economic crisis in years with food prices rocketing, and people are out on the street for basic needs.

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