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29 Nov, 2019 12:41

India offers funds to Sri Lanka to counter China’s influence in region

India offers funds to Sri Lanka to counter China’s influence in region

India, anxious to counter China’s regional influence, on Friday offered hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Sri Lanka, as the island’s new president made his maiden trip overseas to New Delhi, AFP reported. Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s visit to India, just 12 days after he became president, is being intensely watched as New Delhi and Beijing compete to control the Indian Ocean and its strategic sea routes.

Sri Lanka has traditionally been allied to India but China invested and loaned billions of dollars to the island nation during the decade-long reign of Rajapaksa’s elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.

After talks with the new leader, India’s PM Narendra Modi said his country would give $400 million in credit to Sri Lanka to improve its economy and infrastructure. He offered another $50 million to boost security and intelligence gathering.

In his inauguration speech, Sri Lanka's new president said he wanted a “neutral” foreign policy and friendly relations with all countries.