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Sri Lankan Minister calls India “big brother”, thanks PM Modi for help during difficult times

First Published: 23rd February, 2024 8:37 IST

On making Sri Lanka a developed nation, Tharaka Balasuriya said, "We are not looking for help. You can't develop a country through handouts. "

 Sri Lankan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya has said Sri Lanka looks at India as a big brother and partner and wants to see how India has transformed their country and it is well on its way to becoming a developed nation by 2047. He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of India for helping Sri Lanka during the difficult time.
In an interview with ANI, he said that Sri Lanka wants to work in partnership with India and invited all the Indian companies to come to Sri Lanka. He said that Sri Lanka is looking at becoming a developed nation by 2048.

On making Sri Lanka a developed nation, Tharaka Balasuriya said, “We are not looking for help. You can’t develop a country through handouts. We are looking at partnerships. We look at India as a partner, we look at India as a big brother and we look at India in their success story. And we want to see how India has transformed their country and it’s well on its way to become a developed country by, I think, 2047. I think we are looking at becoming a developed country by 2048, around the same period. And I think there’s a lot of economic opportunities for both India and Sri Lanka. So we feel that we are not looking at handouts. We want to work in partnership with India. So, I invite all the Indian companies to come to Sri Lanka, have a look at Sri Lanka.”
Highlighting the development of Sri Lanka, he said, “Tourism is flourishing in Sri Lanka. We are looking at the renewables and the ports and the real estate in Sri Lanka is developing. And there are so many other areas in Sri Lanka which we have not touched, such as minerals, for example. We have the best graphite in the world. Now, Indian companies will be manufacturing the electric vehicles. One of the large components for electric battery is graphite. We used to have about 30,000 graphite mines. So there’s a lot of opportunity with the expertise and the technology these Indian companies have, I think they should seriously look at Sri Lanka.”
Calling ties between India and Sri Lanka “special”, he said that the two nations have civilizational links. He said that Sri Lanka has “good relationship” with Russia and Middle Eastern nations.

On being asked if Sri Lanka is influenced by China, he said, “We are open for business for any country. But when it comes to India, we have a special relationship. It’s a civilizational link which we have with India. So I don’t think you know, India should get overly worried about our relationship with China. It’s not only with China. We have very good relationship with the western countries. We have very good relationship with Russia, for example, and we have very good relationship with the Middle Eastern countries. Sri Lanka is a small country. We don’t have great political ambitions. We are not going to go and invade any country. So, what we want to do is we want to ensure that there’s enough business taking place in Sri Lanka so that the living standards of all Sri Lankans rise.”
Speaking about the transformation of Sri Lanka underwent following the economic crisis, he said, “You told me that you have visited Sri Lanka one and a half years ago when Daragala was there. You saw long queues, 4 km long queues for fuel, for medicine and gas. We were able to turn the corner very quickly, particularly with the help of our friends, particularly with the help of India and Prime Minister Modiji’s the neighbourhood first policy. So we are very grateful for the Prime Minister and the people of India for helping us out at a time which was very difficult.
“We are very grateful for your External Affairs Minister and your finance minister. Your finance minister was part of the Sri Lankan team which negotiated with IMF. And I strongly, strongly advise you to come back to Sri Lanka. And then you yourself can see the difference,” he added.
He said Sri Lanka is back to normal and there is a lot of investor interest in Sri Lanka. He said Sri Lanka wants to have grid connectivity and gas connectivity with India and added that further integration with India will help Sri Lanka to grow in stature.
He said, “Sri Lanka is back to normal and there’s a lot of investor interest in Sri Lanka. So, we want to develop our economy, we want to develop our ports, we want to develop our logistics centers, we want to have renewable energy in the north and the east. We are looking at grid connectivity with India. We are looking at gas connectivity with India.”
“And we are also looking at developing the Trincomalee port together. So I think Sri Lanka is on the right track. And the economic reforms which the current president took place, although painful, will show results. And it is beginning to show results. And I think further integration with India will help Sri Lanka grow in stature,” he added. (ANI)

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