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Modi in Sri Lanka: PM meets President Sirisena, pays tribute to Easter attack victims

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Male, June 09: Narendra Modi, on his first foreign visit after re-election as Prime Minister, on Sunday arrived in Sri Lanka from Maldives. PM Modi was received by his Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.

Modi arrives in Sri Lanka

PM modi visited St Anthony's Church in Colombo and paid tribute to the victims of Easter attacks which killed 258 people including 45 foreigners. NSA Ajit Doval also accompanied the Prime Minister.

"Started the Sri Lanka visit by paying my respect at one of the sites of the horrific Easter Sunday Attack, St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade. My heart goes out to the families of the victims and the injured," Modi tweeted.

"I am confident Sri Lanka will rise again. Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka," he added.

During his day-long visit, Prime Minister Modi will hold talks with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa. A delegation of the main Tamil party - The Tamil National Alliance - is also expected to meet him.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had earlier said PM Modi's visit to Sri Lanka on June 9 will be a clear message of solidarity in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombings that rocked the island nation in April.

"Happy to be back in Sri Lanka, my third visit to this beautiful island in four years. Share the warmth shown by the people of SL in equal measure. India never forgets her friends when they are in need. Deeply touched by the ceremonial welcome," Modi tweeted soon after his arrival here.

"PM Modi coming to Sri Lanka soon after his re-election and the invitation to Bimstec leaders to his inauguration this year is a good gesture. Not only is India the largest country of this region, but PM Modi is also one of its senior-most politicians," Mahinda Rajapaksa, former President of Sri Lanka and the leader of the Opposition, told Hindustan Times.

Ahead of his visit to Sri Lanka, PM Modi had made it clear that India stands with Sri Lanka in fighting terrorism in the wake of the attack on April 21, 2019.

The island nation has been on high alert ever since the terror attack and has deeply affected tourism and bilateral relations.

Modi had reached Maldives' capital Male on Saturday. He was conferred with Maldives' highest honour "Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen".

"An affectionate goodbye PM @narendramodi departs for Sri Lanka on the second leg of his first overseas visit after a successful visit to Maldives (sic)," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

Modi's visit to the Maldives and Sri Lanka on June 8-9 highlights his government's firm emphasis on the Neighbourhood First policy.'

[India will help conserve Maldives' oldest and iconic Friday Mosque]

On Saturday, addressing the Maldivian Parliament, 'the Majlis', PM Modi, in a veiled attack on Pakistan, said that terrorism is not just a threat for a country but to the entire civilisation. The Prime Minister also held talks with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Modi said that India will contribute to the conservation of one of the Maldives' oldest and iconic Friday Mosque, a historic landmark made up of coral stones.

Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih thanked the Indian side for their offer to carry out restoration of the mosque by the Archaeological Survey of India under an Indian grant.

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