COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe commenced bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Thursday with focus on early completion of joint development projects.

Several ventures with India have faced Sri Lankan public opposition while a severe petrol shortage following Lanka returning alleged low-quality fuel shipment of Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC), a few weeks back, has plunged India-Sri Lanka relations to a new low.

During his talks, Mr Wickremesinghe is expected to tackle outstanding issues, including India’s offer to invest in the controversial Mattala Airport in the island’s Hambantota district.

Talks between India and Sri Lanka to run the Mattala airport as a Joint Venture (JV) are still at an early stage but have already resulted in protests by the joint opposition supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

India’s interest in the Mattala airport is due to be pursued during the current three-day visit of Wickremesinghe, which will end on Friday night.

Mr Wickremesinghe will also seek to expedite projects lined up in the Indo-Lankan MoU signed in New Delhi in April.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2017