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Indian Navy Chief holds talks with top political and defence leadership in Lanka to boost bilateral military ties

COLOMBO (PTI): Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar has held discussions with senior political and defence leadership of Sri Lanka, including President Ranil Wickremesinghe, on furthering defence cooperation between the two nations.

Kumar, who arrived in Colombo on Tuesday on a four-day visit, called on President Wickremesinghe on Wednesday.

"Discussions focused on furthering defence cooperation between India and Sri Lanka towards strengthening bilateral ties. Sri Lanka's role in steering Colombo Security Conclave towards ensuring peace and security in the region was acknowledged," the Indian High Commission in Colombo tweeted.

He also called on Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

"Discussed the importance of strong defence ties between and means to further strengthen existing linkages between the Armed Forces of two countries," the mission tweeted.

Kumar also met Premitha Bandara Tennakoon, State Minister of Defence of Sri Lanka, Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva and the Chiefs of Sri Lankan Air Force and the Army, the Indian High Commission tweeted on Thursday.

He also met with Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy.

Earlier, the Indian High Commission in a statement said that the visit of CNS symbolises strong relations and close cooperation between the two countries, with Sri Lanka being accorded the status of ‘Priority One’ partner by India.

It would strengthen the existing bilateral maritime relations between the two countries and areas of common security concern and enhancing capacity and capability building initiatives towards ensuring peace in the region, it said.

The visit is also indicative of the growing camaraderie and friendship between the two nations in line with India’s 'Neighbourhood First' policy.

High Commissioner Gopal Baglay along with the Navy Chief hosted a reception on board the INS Sahayadri.

Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and ministers, including Nimal Siripala Silva, Douglas Devananda and Kanchana Wijesekera, several dignitaries and friends of India attended the reception.

"Truly a memorable evening on board!!!," the Indian mission tweeted.

Kumar also visited Sri Lanka Navy Ship SLNS Sindurala and Naval facilities at the Colombo Port.

"During interactions, the @srilanka_navy leadership & the ship's crew acknowledged the operational utility of the OPVs, built by @goashipyardltd for the Sri Lanka Navy," the mission said.

Remembering the supreme sacrifice of brave Indian soldiers, Admiral Kumar paid his tributes at the IPKF Memorial on Tuesday.

Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was the Indian military contingent performing a peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990.

Kumar has been invited as the Chief Guest and Reviewing Officer for the Commissioning Parade at the Naval and Maritime Academy (NMA), Trincomalee, scheduled on Thursday.

Admiral Kumar's visit comes months after the docking of a Chinese spy ship at Sri Lanka's Hambantota port which triggered a diplomatic row between New Delhi and Colombo.

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