High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India Milinda Moragoda explored avenues to further strengthen defence and security cooperation with India during a meeting with the Defence Minister of India Shri Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on 30 November. He was accompanied by the High Commission’s Defence Advisor Commodore Thushara Karunatunga (SLN).
High Commissioner Moragoda thanked Minister Singh for the support that the Indian defence establishment has been extending to Sri Lanka over the years in many spheres, particularly referring to the assistance received in controlling the disastrous fires onboard MT New Diamond and MV Express Pearl off the coast of Sri Lanka; the fires would have resulted in devastating levels of marine pollution in the region had they not been controlled in a timely and efficient manner.
The High Commissioner also thanked Minister Singh for the training opportunities accorded to Sri Lankan military students, noting that, at any given time, there are around 700 Sri Lankan military students undergoing training in India. He also recalled how the Indian defence establishment supported the repatriation of Sri Lankan military students during the initial months of the lock-down in 2020 and thanked the Minister for this facilitation. Sri Lanka is the largest single recipient of Indian training berths in the defence sector. The High Commissioner suggested that the possibility be explored for the provision of further training opportunities for Sri Lankan military students in India.
High Commissioner Moragoda conveyed to Defence Minister Singh his appreciation for the assistance extended by India to Sri Lanka during the Covid-19 pandemic such as sending military aircrafts with medical supplies, transporting much needed medical-grade oxygen to Sri Lanka by INS Shakti, facilitating transportation of the same by SLNS Shakthi, and air lifting a consignment of urgently required nano-nitrogen fertilizer by transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force. In this context, the offer by the Indian Navy to donate a large-scale oxygen generator to Sri Lanka was also appreciated.
The two dignitaries took note of the annual bilateral Joint Military and Naval exercises. They also observed with satisfaction the immense progress achieved by the Colombo Security Conclave during the past one year.
High Commissioner Moragoda also presented a copy of his policy road map “Integrated Country Strategy for Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions in India 2021/2023” to Minister Singh.