India and Sri Lanka on Monday expressed their commitment to unlocking the vast potential for economic cooperation between the two nations.

The commitment was made after an official meeting between visiting Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Narendra Modi here during which the two nations signed four agreements, including one on ‘Peaceful uses of nuclear energy’.

Addressing the media, Modi expressed his support for a more balanced growth in trade between the two countries.

“I conveyed our readiness to promote greater flow of Indian investment and tourists into Sri Lanka. We discussed expansion of cooperation in the energy sector, both conventional and renewable. Our commerce secretaries will meet soon to review our bilateral commercial relations,” the Prime Minister said.

The signing of an agreement on the ‘Peaceful uses of nuclear energy’ is also seen as an attempt to energise economic engagement between the two nations.

Knowledge transfer

The agreement will facilitate cooperation in the transfer and exchange of knowledge and expertise, sharing of resources, capacity building and training of personnel in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including use of radioisotopes, nuclear safety, radiation safety, nuclear security, radioactive waste management and nuclear and radiological disaster mitigation and environmental protection.

Sources indicate that the agreement will not only help train personnel but also help in using irradiation for preservation of food, among other things, which could benefit the people of the island nation.

There were also extensive discussions on enhancing connectivity and the possibility of opening more airports apart from the one in Colombo. In this context the issue of restarting a ferry service between Talaimannar and Tuticorin was also discussed.

IRCON taking up infrastructure development in Sri Lanka and the fishermen’s issue were also discussed at length. IRCON, originally the Indian Railway Construction Company Ltd, is a leading turnkey construction company in the public sector.

Modi to visit Lanka

The Prime Minister also accepted an invitation to visit Sri Lanka, a visit that is expected to take place in the second week of March.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is also likely to pay a visit to Sri Lanka in the first week of March.

Sirisena’s visit here is his first international trip since assuming the President’s office about a month ago.

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