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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in India to seek blessings at Tirupati temple

File photo of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Asi Ghat in Varanasi, India, in 2020 (Photo: ANI)

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is on a two-day private visit to India. Rajapaksa and his wife are visiting the temple town of Tirupati and will return back on Saturday.

Rajapaksa was received at the airport by Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister K Narayana Swamy and officials of the Chittoor district administration.

Reportedly, Rajapaksa is a follower of Lord Venkateswara and had visited the temple in February 2020 also.

India and Sri Lanka are witnessing high-level political and diplomatic exchanges over the last few months. The two close neighbours are making efforts to improve cultural, tourism, trade and defence ties.

In late November, Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa was in Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior ministers. His visit was related to the acute financial crisis that the island nation is facing with foreign exchange reserves down to barely one month of imports.

In October Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla and Indian Army chief MM Naravane had visited the Indian Ocean island. While Shringla's visit was to urge Colombo to expedite Indian projects, General Naravane's visit was to strengthen India-Sri Lanka defence ties.

In signs of increasing defence cooperation, the two nations held a number of military exercises. India has also pledged to train and build the capacities of Sri Lankan defence personnel.

In October itself, Namal Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's Minister of Youth and Sports, had visited India for the inauguration of the Kushinagar International Airport in Uttar Pradesh by Prime Minister Modi. He visited India on the first flight to Kushinagar accompanied by several ministers and 100 Buddhist monks.

Read More: Forex crisis may lead to closure of Sri Lanka's only oil refinery unless India steps in