Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday, enquired about “China’s thinking” on current development projects in Sri Lanka, a top source told The Hindu on Friday.
The ex-President is a known ally of China and has in the past blamed India for his defeat in the January 2015 elections. The former strongman retains considerable public support.
Describing Thursday’s meeting as “cordial”, the source close to Mr. Rajapaksa said “there was nothing controversial”. The focus of the meeting, which began around 10.30 p.m. at India House in Colombo, was economic and development projects. Mr. Modi reportedly asked the former President what he thought India could do. “Mr. Rajapaksa said New Delhi must encourage Indian investment in Sri Lanka to benefit the people,” the source said, requesting anonymity.
The meeting was organised at the request of Mr. Rajapaksa and sources in both governments said it was not uncommon for a leader to meet a former President of a neighbouring country. On his first visit in March 2015, two months after the regime change in Sri Lanka, Mr. Modi met Mr. Rajapaksa. Tweeting about the meeting, Mr. Rajapaksa said: “As always, a cordial meeting with PM @narendramodi yesterday. Happy to see him in #SriLanka for International Vesak Day Celebrations. #India.”
The source close to Mr. Rajapaksa said: “When the former President asked Mr. Modi if he was tired after many engagements, he remarked ‘When I see you my tiredness vanishes’.” Mr. Modi also reminded the former President of his standing invitation to visit India, sources said.