Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday honored those killed by extremist militants in Sri Lanka’s Easter bombings, vowing support for the island nation as Delhi seeks to counter the rise of China in the region.
The hours-long stop in Sri Lanka was part of Modi’s first overseas trip after winning a second term. He arrived from the Maldives, where on Saturday he called for a global conference to tackle the threat of terrorism.
In recent years, China’s presence has grown in both in Sri Lanka and in the Maldives as Beijing financed infrastructure projects and sought closer military ties, especially for its navy. The debt from those projects has, however, become a burden for both countries.
India is pursuing what it calls a “neighborhood first” foreign policy centred on its allies in South Asia, although there is little sign of a warming in relations with arch rival Pakistan.
“India never forgets her friends when they are in need,” Modi, the first foreign leader to visit Sri Lanka since the attacks, tweeted after touching down.
Happy to be back in Sri Lanka, my third visit to this beautiful island in four years. Share the warmth shown by the people of SL in equal measure. India never forgets her friends when they are in need. Deeply touched by the ceremonial welcome. @RW_UNP pic.twitter.com/wjZjKPno01— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 9, 2019