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Indian Navy Chief to embark on Sri Lanka visit

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar would be visitng Sri Lanka from Dec. 13 to Dec. 16.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar will begin a four-day visit to Sri Lanka on Tuesday with an aim to bolster overall bilateral maritime cooperation amid concerns in India over China's persistent attempts to expand influence over the island nation.

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

"Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), will be visiting Sri Lanka from December 13 to 16," Indian Navy said.

The Chief of the Naval Staff has been invited as the Chief Guest and Reviewing Officer for the commissioning parade at the Naval and Maritime Academy (NMA) in Trincomalee, scheduled on December 15.

"During the visit, the CNS will undertake interactions with senior political and defence leadership of Sri Lanka. He would also be visiting other defence establishments of the Sri Lankan armed forces and review progress of various bilateral defence cooperation activities," the Navy said in a statement.

It said the visit would further enhance the long standing bilateral defence cooperation with Sri Lanka, especially in the maritime domain.

The Indian Navy regularly interacts with the Sri Lankan Navy through the medium of annual staff talks and pursues several operational engagements at regular frequency.

In August, Vice Chief of Indian Navy Vice Admiral SN Ghormade paid a two-day visit to Sri Lanka during which India handed the island nation a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft.

The aircraft was given to Sri Lanka from the inventory of Indian Navy to help the country meet its immediate security requirement.

The Indian Navy has been supporting various capacity building measures of the Sri Lankan Navy including providing indigenously constructed Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs).

"In addition, the Indian Navy remains actively engaged in various capability enhancement projects, including training of the Sri Lankan Navy personnel in India," the Navy said.

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