Army Chief Gen Naravane begins four-day visit to Sri Lanka

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 12-10-2021 14:18 IST | Created: 12-10-2021 14:12 IST
Army Chief Gen Naravane begins four-day visit to Sri Lanka
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Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane is on a four-day visit to Sri Lanka beginning Tuesday to further expand bilateral military ties and discuss regional security challenges in the backdrop of China's increasing attempts to expand influence in the island nation.

The Army chief will hold wide-ranging talks with top military brass of Sri Lanka and is scheduled to call on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, officials said.

Gen Naravane's first visit to Sri Lanka as the Army Chief came days after the foreign secretary traveled to the island nation and held extensive talks with the top leaders of the country to boost cooperation in a range of areas.

The Defence Ministry said he will be meeting the country's senior military and civilian leadership and discuss avenues for enhancing India-Sri Lanka defense relations. ''The Army chief will take forward the excellent defense cooperation between Sri Lanka and India through multiple meetings with senior officials of the security establishment and exchange views on various defense-related issues,'' it said in a statement.

He will also interact with the Sri Lankan service chiefs and visit the headquarters of the Sri Lankan Army, the Gajaba regimental headquarters, and a military academy. Gen Naravane's visit to Sri Lanka comes in the backdrop of China's increasing attempts to expand influence in that country, particularly in the maritime sphere.

The Army chief was accorded a warm welcome by Gen Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of Sri Lankan Army, on his arrival in Colombo.

Defense and security ties between India and Sri Lanka have been on an upswing, particularly after the island nation was hit by a series of deadly bomb blasts in April 2019 in which over 300 people were killed.

Currently, the armies of the two countries are carrying out a mega military exercise with a focus on enhancing counter-terror cooperation.

The eighth edition of the 'Mitra Shakti' exercise began on October 4 at Combat Training School in Sri Lanka's Ampara and it will conclude on October 15.

The Army chief will also witness the culmination phase of the exercise and address the students and faculty at the Defence Services Command and Staff College at Batalanda.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval paid a two-day visit to Colombo in November last year to attend a trilateral maritime security cooperation dialogue among India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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