In line with India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, India stands with Sri Lanka, EAM Jaishankar tweeted

India has provided a $1 billion credit facility to Sri Lanka for procurement of food, medicine and other essential items by the island-nation as it deals with a worsening financial crisis.

An agreement for the credit facility was signed between the State Bank of India (SBI) and the Government of Sri Lanka in New Delhi on Thursday.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and visiting Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa were present.

The ministers discussed wide ranging issues of mutual interest and economic cooperation, a tweet by the Ministry of Finance said.

Announcing the signing of the agreement on Twitter, EAM Jaishankar said that in line with India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, India stands with Sri Lanka.

“Neighborhood first. India stands with Sri Lanka. US$ 1 billion credit line signed for supply of essential commodities. Key element of the package of support extended by India,” his tweet said.

On Wednesday, the Sri Lankan Finance Minister had called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and briefed him on initiatives being taken by both countries to increase bilateral economic cooperation. He also conveyed his thanks for the support extended by India for the Sri Lankan economy.

According to a Ministry of External Affairs statement, Prime Minister Modi spoke about the central role that Sri Lanka occupies in India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and its S.A.G.A.R (Security and Growth for all in the Region) doctrine.

“He reiterated that India would continue to stand with the friendly people of Sri Lanka,” the MEA further stated.

“Finance Minister Rajapaksa noted the deepening people-to-people relations between both countries, including in the cultural sphere,” the MEA statement mentioned.

“The Indian Prime Minister pointed to the potential for increasing tourist flows, including through joint promotion of Buddhist and Ramayan tourism circuits,” it added.

During the last visit of the Sri Lankan Finance Minister to India in December, the two countries had adopted a four-point package of economic cooperation. This included a line of credit to cover the import of food and medicines and a currency swap arrangement.