India seeks to outbid China with aid for Sri Lanka
Posted on November 29th, 2019

Courtesy rthk

  • Narendra Modi greets Sri Lanka’s new leader, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Photo: AP

India, anxious to counter China’s influence in the region, on Friday offered hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Sri Lanka as the island’s new president made his maiden overseas trip in New Delhi.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s visit to India just 12 days after he became president is being intensely watched as New Delhi and Beijing compete to control the Indian Ocean and its strategic sea routes.

Sri Lanka has traditionally been allied to India but China invested and loaned billions of dollars to the island nation during the decade-long reign of Rajapaksa’s elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.

After talks with the new leader, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country would give US$400 million in credit to Sri Lanka to improve its economy and infrastructure.

He offered another US$50 million to boost Sri Lanka’s security and intelligence gathering – notably after the April 21 attacks by Muslim radicals that killed 258 people.

“A strong and prosperous Sri Lanka is not just in India’s interest but the entire Indian Ocean region,” Modi said as he welcomed Rajapaksa for the three-day visit.

“The security and development of our two countries are interlinked. Therefore it is only natural that we remain mindful of each other’s security and sensitivities,” he added.

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