Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold discussions with Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo today.
As the first foreign leader to visit Sri Lanka since it suffered a wave of terrorist attacks on churches and hotels, Modi aims to express India’s solidarity with the country. On Easter Sunday over 250 people were killed by an ISIS supporter.
The two governments will likely discuss strengthening their counter-terrorism cooperation. This forms part of Mr Modi’s ongoing interest in strengthening connectivity among states along the Indian Ocean. In 2015, the Indian PM visited Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka to outline his security and growth strategy for Indian Ocean states. Modi has even indicated a willingness to involve the US, Japan and Australia.
Similarly, China is increasing its presence in the Indian Ocean. Beijing has a base in Djibouti and also the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka. Also, in the northern area of the Indian Ocean, China constantly has six to eight navy ships.
As India prioritises building strategic partnerships in the Indian Ocean, expect its influence to face challenges from China.
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Saira is an analyst in the Current Developments team, where she focuses her research on the Middle East and North Africa region.