India and Sri Lanka are time-tested friends and the forthcoming summit will provide the two sides an opportunity to comprehensively review their bilateral engagement

In a move to further strengthen bilateral cooperation between New Delhi and Colombo, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a virtual bilateral summit with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa on September 26.

“The virtual bilateral summit will give an opportunity to the two leaders to comprehensively review the broad framework of the bilateral relationship soon after the Parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka and in the context of the time-tested friendly ties between the two countries,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

The two Prime Ministers had last held a conversation over a phone call on Prime Minister Modi’s birthday. President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had called the Indian Prime Minister to convey warm wishes.

Both Sri Lankan leaders had expressed their strong desire and commitment to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

They had also expressed appreciation for the continued bilateral cooperation including in the joint fight against the COVID pandemic.

PM Modi had thanked both the leaders and conveyed that he was looking forward to working with them to further expand cooperation between the two countries in line with India’s ‘Neighborhood First Policy’.

Neighborhood First Policy is part of India’s foreign policy that actively focuses on improving ties with India's immediate neighbors.

In line with this policy, on September 15, High Commissioner of India Gopal Baglay met Sri Lanka’s Minister for Skill Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation Seetha Arambepola to discuss the ways to deepen the partnership between the two neighboring countries in areas such as capacity building and skill development.

“As a follow-up to the meeting with Hon Minister of Education, High Commissioner met Hon Minister of State Dr. Seetha Arambepola and discussed India’s possible assistance for early realization of augmenting capacities in Vocational Training, S&T & Research in #SriLanka Flag of India Flag of Sri Lanka,” the official handle of the High Commission of India in Colombo, Sri Lanka had tweeted.

India offers capacity building modules across a range of fields to government officials and other eligible Sri Lankan citizens every year. Under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme, around 400 slots are reserved for Sri Lanka annually.

Both countries also recently celebrated Hindi Diwas further strengthening the bilateral relationship.

India and Sri Lanka’s relationship is more than 2500 years old and both sides have a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious, and linguistic interactions.

Earlier, in August, when Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister for the fourth time, PM Modi had congratulated him and noted to work together to strengthen the bilateral ties.

“Thank you, Prime Minister @PresRajapaksa! It was a pleasure to speak to you. Once again, many congratulations. We will work together to further advance all areas of bilateral cooperation and to take our special ties to ever newer heights,” Modi had tweeted.

During his visit to India in February this year, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Rajapaksa held a meeting with PM Modi and both sides discussed ways to boost joint economic projects and increase economic, trade, and investment relations.

This year in July, the Reserve Bank of India signed an agreement for extending a $400-million currency swap facility to Sri Lanka to boost foreign reserves and ensure financial stability of the island country.

In 2019, India had announced a special line of credit of $50 million for strengthening Sri Lanka's abilities to counter terror threats and another $400 million line of credit for infrastructure development in the island nation.