Ahead of PM Modi's visit to Sri Lanka on Sunday, Austin Fernando, who is the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India, spoke about India’s agenda in the island nations. In an exclusive interview with Republic, Austin Fernando spoke about the possibility of technical aid from India and other issues for Sri Lanka.
“From the experiences that we have had of Presidents and Prime Ministers visiting us in Sri Lanka, I feel the agenda with PM Modi's visit should be something which will provide interests for both the countries”, said the Sri Lankan High Commissioner over India's agenda behind the visit.
While acknowledging the active contribution of India in aiding Sri Lanka at the time of crisis following the drastic Sunday Easter Bombings, Austin Fernando stated that the island nation is pleased to consider that cooperation from its neighbouring country.
“One cannot counter-terrorism without looking at the international scenario, and India being the closest and also being the first to inform us of this event, we are pleased to consider the cooperation of Indians Government and Authorities," he added.
When asked if there is a possibility that PM Modi will visit the terror inflicted sites, he said that a visit by the Prime Minister is most likely awaited.
“ A PM who is visiting a country which has been victimised by terrorism, in that scale it is most likely that there will be this kind of a visit because nor it is of national, bilateral and international significance,” he added.
Thanking India and other Western Countries for their undaunted assistance to Sri Lanka, High Commissioner Austin Fernando said:
“India has already helped us in many ways starting with intelligence sharing, however in future Sri Lanka also expect India to provide technical assistance to help them tide over the crisis.”
According to Austin, PM Modi's visit to the island nation will send a positive message to the entire world. He further said that the government would like New Delhi to lift the travel advisory issued for Sri Lanka after the attack which left several Indians dead as well.
"PM Narendra Modi's visit to Sri Lanka will send a message that it is a safe place to travel to. We would like the Indian government to lift the travel advisory for Sri Lanka," Austin said.
After a successful visit to the Maldives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Sri Lankan Capital Colombo. PM Modi was the first world leader to visit the terror affected country after the Easter Sunday Bombings which claimed the lives of almost 250 people.
Following the crisis from which Sri Lanka is still recovering, PM Modi’s first international visit after assuming office for the second term was aimed at expressing solidarity with the island nation in the aftermath of the recent terror attack while holding discussions with the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, to discuss issues on counter-terrorism and strengthen bilateral ties.