Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the island nation’s defence minister, yesterday visited India’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, in what is being seen as a landmark event because of worries that India was ceding strategic space to the Chinese.
It was the first visit by a foreign head of state to the carrier, the largest in the Indian Navy’s fleet. Colombo is also the Vikramaditya’s first overseas deployment. The carrier is on its way to waters off Visakhapatnam for the International Fleet Review being hosted by the Indian Navy in early
Navy spokesperson Captain D K Sharma said the Sri Lankan president was accompanied by the commander of the Sri Lankan Navy and received by Rear Admiral Ravneet Singh, flag-officer-commanding the western fleet.
India’s decision to deploy the Vikramaditya to Colombo is in part prompted by visits of various Chinese warships and
submarines to Sri Lanka.
India’s other carrier, the INS Viraat, is also sailing to Visakhapatnam but without halting in Sri Lanka.
“India and Sri Lanka share a very cordial multi-dimensional relationship that is both diverse and historic. The Indian Navy and the Sri Lankan Navy also share a deep and multi layered relationship, as also a history of strong bilateral engagement,” a navy statement said.
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