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India to train 50 Sri Lankan officers amid efforts to strengthen military ties

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Indian Army chief General MM Naravane meets President Rajapaksa Gotabaya (Photo courtesy: @GotabayaR/Twitter)

Soon after concluding a major on-going military exercise, India will train 50 Sri Lankan Army officers as part of a broadening security partnership which includes jointly combatting terrorism and radicalisation.

The decision to train the officers was taken during a meeting between visiting Indian army chief General MM Naravane and Sri Lanka's Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva. India provides training to nearly a thousand Sri Lankan Army officers annually.

Gen. Naravane also met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and separately met with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on his four-day visit to the island nation.

In a sign of deepening military engagements, Gen. Naravane inaugurated two simulator facilities for the Sri Lankan army. India has accorded Sri Lanka as "Priority One" partner in matters of defence.

The Army Chief's visit comes at a time when Sri Lanka is demonstrating its intent to break out of its excessive reliance on China. Last week, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla visited the island nation to not only boost ties but also launch development projects in various parts of the country.

The Sri Lankan President will visit Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh next week. Kushinagar is a major Buddhist pilgrimage centre.

Separately, the two nations also held a joint meeting on tourism. Tourism provides a strong people-to-people connect between the two neighbours with two-thirds of international tourists visiting Sri Lanka happening to be Indians.

In a sign of bonding with the Indo-Pacific democracies, Sri Lanka is set to hold military exercises with Japan, which is already partnering India in developing the third container terminal in Colombo.

Sri Lankan newspaper Daily FT said that during this call on President Rajapaksa, the two discussed regional security matters. In a statement, the President’s Media Division said that Naravane was supportive of stability in neighbouring countries for regional security of South Asia.

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