New Delhi appeases Colombo as Eelam Tamil leaders fail to demand international mediation

[TamilNet, Friday, 29 November 2019, 18:45 GMT]
While Eelam Tamil political parties, particularly the TNA, are yet to place their demands to the geopolitical actors of an internationally mediated settlement to the national question in the island, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered a $450 million line of credit to Colombo, which includes $400 million for developing infrastructure and $50 million for anti-terrorism, media reports from India said on Friday. The move, announced during the new SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s maiden visit to India, is seen as a bid to outdo or reduce the influence of China in the strategically located island. In the meantime, New Delhi-based Hindustan Times reported that Gotabaya’s government wants to undo the previous regime’s move to lease the southern port of Hambantota to China. Rajapaksas were citing “national interest” as the reason, the paper said.

“The ideal situation would be to go back to status quo. We pay back the loan in due course in the way that we had originally agreed without any disturbance at all,” Ajith Nivard Cabraal, an adviser of SL Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.

The paper was citing Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, as commenting that Colombo would have to offer China “something equally, if not more, attractive in financial terms for Beijing to agree to the cancellation of the lease agreement.”

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on a three-day visit to India, was given a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi Friday morning.

“During my tenure as president, I want to bring the relationship between India and Sri Lanka to a very high level. We have a long-standing relationship historically as well as politically,” Mr Gotabaya told media after meeting the Indian PM Narendra Modi.

Meanwhile, India’s apex industry chamber, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), has hailed the visit of SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as “giving a great momentum to bilateral trade and investment relations which can leverage huge geo-cultural commonalities,” between India and Sri Lanka.

“Mutual investment can also flourish in a number of areas, including ports, airports, highways, metro rails, telecommunication, petroleum products and hydel power,” Assocham has stated, according to a news report filed by Business Standard India.


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