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Sri Lankan President congratulates Modi, invites him on state visit

LiveMint logoLiveMint 16-05-2014 PTI

Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday congratulated Narendra Modi on his party’s massive victory in the Lok Sabha election and invited him on a state visit. Rajapaksa telephoned Modi to congratulate him on his resounding victory and extended an invitation to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate to visit the island-nation, the President’s spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said.

The BJP win was welcomed in Sri Lanka as the Rajapaksa government’s relations with the Congress Party led-United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had soured over the years. The Congress government had backed two UN Human Rights Council resolutions against Sri Lanka while it abstained from voting during the US-backed resolution in March.

Leading commentator Dayan Jayathilaka said the BJP victory would lead the India-Lanka relations into a decisive phase. Jayathilaka, a former Sri Lankan diplomat, said Rajapaksa needs to develop a close friendship with Modi. “Modi-Mahinda (Rajapaksa) friendship will be the key to all this,” Jayathilaka said. “There are similarities in Modi’s and Mahinda’s political discourses. Both have a nationalist flavour in their political approaches.”

He, however, warned there will be forces who would want to create wedge between the two leaders. He hinted that Modi might be more assertive towards Sri Lanka than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “This is why I say the BJP victory is decisive for Sri Lanka. It all depends as to how our President will be able to cultivate a friendship with Prime Minister Modi and move ahead.”

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