External affairs minister S Jaishankar and Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe formally commissioned the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Colombo on Thursday, a project funded by a USD 6 million grant from India. The MRCC aims to enhance maritime safety in the region, featuring a central facility at Navy Headquarters in Colombo, a sub-centre in Hambantota, and unmanned installations across key coastal locations including Galle, Arugambay, and Trincomalee.

Jaishankar during the ceremony conveyed greetings from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed avenues for strengthening India-Sri Lanka cooperation in various sectors such as power, energy, connectivity, port infrastructure, aviation, digital technology, health, food security, education, and tourism. He highlighted India's commitment to fostering close and friendly ties with Sri Lanka, reflecting the importance of the island nation in India's 'Neighbourhood First' and SAGAR policies.

Jaishankar's visit, his first in his new term as external affairs minister, included a meeting with President Wickremesinghe at the President's House. The two leaders jointly unveiled a virtual plaque to mark the MRCC’s commissioning and discussed ongoing bilateral projects and potential future initiatives. They also participated in the virtual handing over of 154 houses under the Government of India (GOI) housing schemes, benefiting communities in Kandy, N'Eliya, and Matale.

EAM Jaishankar is also scheduled to review the progress of Indian-funded projects in Sri Lanka and discuss preliminary plans for an upcoming visit by Prime Minister Modi. He will meet with Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena during his stay.

Jaishankar's visit follows his participation in Prime Minister Modi's delegation to the G7 Outreach Summit in Italy and comes after Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe attended Modi's swearing-in ceremony earlier this month. The trip marks Jaishankar's first standalone bilateral visit since assuming office for a second term on June 11. His previous visit to Colombo was in October 2023 for meetings related to the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). - TOI