India, Sri Lanka discuss steps to boost defence ties
India’s Chief of the Army Staff General MM Naravane receives the guard of honour during his visit to the Sri Lankan Army headquarters in Colombo on October 13, 2021. (PTI Photo)
INDIAN Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane met Sri Lanka’s top civilian and military leadership on Wednesday (13) and discussed steps for enhancing defence cooperation between the two neighbouring countries.
General Naravane, who arrived in Colombo on Tuesday (12) on a four-day visit at the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart General Shavendra Silva, called on president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, and discussed issues of mutual and strategic cooperation, the Indian Army said in a tweet.
The Indian Army chief also called on prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at his official residence, the Temple Trees.
“Between the two armed forces, we have an excellent relationship,” General Naravane told prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, noting that the interaction will also help cement the bilateral relations between the two countries at all levels, Sri Lanka’s News 1st channel reported.
Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed his appreciation for the assistance provided by the Indian Armed Forces to Sri Lanka throughout the years, especially in the area of training, it added.
General Naravane laid a wreath at Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKP) War Memorial and paid tributes to the bravehearts of the Indian Army who laid down their lives during the Peace Keeping Operations in Sri Lanka. He also interacted with the veterans of the Sri Lankan Army.
He had served in the IPKP in Sri Lanka’s north and east from 1987-1990.
On Thursday (14), he will witness the final demonstration of the ongoing bilateral exercise ‘Mitra Shakti’ at Maduru Oya Special Forces Training School in the east.
India and Sri Lanka last week began a 12-day mega military exercise with a focus on enhancing counter-terror cooperation at the Combat Training School in the island nation’s eastern district of Ampara.
It is the eighth edition of the ‘Mitra Shakti’ exercise which got under way on October 4 with the participation of an all arms contingent of 120 Indian Army personnel, headed by Colonel Prakash Kumar. The annual event will conclude on Friday (15).
The joint military exercise has been designed to enhance understanding of transnational terrorism, inter-operability skills, conduct of joint tactical operations, sharing of each other’s best practices and experiences, the Sri Lanka Army said.
General Naravane’s visit is taking place a week after foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla visited Sri Lanka and met the country’s top leadership.