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PM Narendra Modi attends Vesak Day celebrations in Sri Lanka

LiveMint logoLiveMint 12-05-2017 PTI

Colombo: Attending International Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended India’s greetings to the Sri Lankan people and announced a direct flight between Colombo and Varanasi by Air India.

“I bring with me the greetings of 1.25 billion people from the land of the Samyaksambuddha, the perfectly self awakened one. Our region is blessed to have given to the world the invaluable gift of Buddha and his teachings,” Modi said in Sri Lanka.

Modi also announced that from August Air India will operate direct flights between Colombo and Varanasi. Modi also said that biggest challenge to sustainable world peace is from mind-sets rooted in hate and violence.

The menace of terrorism in our region is a concrete manifestation of the destructive emotion, he said.

Modi on Friday participated in the International Vesak Day celebrations in the Sri Lankan capital, the biggest festival of Buddhists.

Modi, on his second visit to Sri Lanka in two years, was received by his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe at the venue amid traditional fanfare.

The prime minister, who is the chief guest at the event, lit lamps – a traditional practice. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Srisena was also present on the occasion.

Several Buddhist monks chanted prayers during which Modi closed his eyes and kept his hands folded. Speaking at the event, Wickremesinghe thanked Modi for being the chief guest at the event.

“Proud to host Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo. I want to thank Prime Minister Modi for being the chief guest during the celebrations,” Wickremesinghe said.

“Teachings of Buddhism are relevant in today’s world. Buddhism shows a moderate path and need to consolidate social justice,” he said.

Later today, Modi will inaugurate a hospital built with India’s assistance of Rs150 crore. He will also address Indian-origin Tamils against the backdrop of India’s insistence that Sri Lanka should undertake devolution of power to the ethnic community as part of the reconciliation process.

Modi arrived on Thursday on a two-day visit which is mainly aimed at reinforcing the traditional connect between India and Sri Lanka at a time when China is seeking to make inroads in the island nation.

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