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‘Neighbourhood First’: Sri Lanka signs $1 billion credit line with India , says EAM Jaishankar

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday, March 17, said India has signed US$ 1 billion credit line with Sri Lanka for supply of essential commodities to the island nation. Sri Lanka is in the midst of a worsening economic crisis.

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The agreement was signed between the State Bank of India (SBI) and the Government of Sri Lanka, during Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksha’s two-day visit to India.

This agreement was signed after Rajapaksa held a meeting with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in New Delhi today. The Ministers discussed wide-ranging issues of mutual interest and economic cooperation.

Jaishankar said India “stands with Sri Lanka”, which is witnessing the worst economic crisis.

“Neighborhood first. India stands with Sri Lanka. US$ 1 billion credit line signed for supply of essential commodities. Key element of the package of support extended by India,” he tweeted.

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Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed to visiting Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa that India would always stand with the island nation as it occupies a central role in New Delhi’s “neighbourhood first policy”.

Prime Minister Modi spoke about the central role that Sri Lanka occupies in India’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy and its S.A.G.A.R (Security and Growth for all in the Region) doctrine, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a release.

He reiterated that India would continue to stand with the friendly people of Sri Lanka.

The visiting Finance Minister briefed Prime Minister Modi on the initiatives being taken by both countries to increase bilateral economic cooperation.

He conveyed his thanks for the support extended by India for the Sri Lankan economy.

“Had a good meeting with Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister @RealBRajapaksa. Glad to see our economic partnership strengthen and investments from India grow,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted after the meeting.

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Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla called on the Sri Lankan Finance Minister last evening during which they discussed bilateral economic and commercial cooperation and opportunities post-pandemic.

“FS @harshvshringla called on the visiting Finance Minister @RealBRajapaks of Sri Lanka. Discussed bilateral economic & commercial cooperation & opportunities post-pandemic. Sri Lanka is integral to our #NeighbourhoodFirst policy. India will always be a reliable partner for Sri Lanka,” MEA official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.

The Finance Minister’s visit to India came at a time when the Sri Lankan government has been rocked by protests in Colombo amid demands for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation for his handling of the economic crisis.

Earlier last month, India extended a USD 500 million line of credit to Sri Lanka to help it purchase petroleum products as the island nation has been reeling under a severe foreign exchange and energy crisis, news agency reported.

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