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INDIAN ARMY CHIEF GENERAL, SRI LANKAN COUNTERPART DISCUSS DEFENCE TIES

Colombo: Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane met Sri Lanka’s top military leadership today and discussed steps for further enhancing the excellent bilateral defence cooperation.

General Naravane, who arrived on Tuesday on a four-day visit at the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart General Shavendra Silva, called on Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, General GDH Kamal Gunaratne (Retd), and discussed steps to take forward the excellent defence cooperation between Sri Lanka and India, the Indian Army said in a tweet.

He also visited the Army Headquarters where he carried out Turnout Inspection and received a Guard of Honour. “COAS complimented the Guard for impeccable ‘Turnout & Parade’,” it said in another tweet.

Gen. Naravane called on Gen. Silva and discussed issues related to boosting bilateral defence cooperation between two countries. He also interacted with the senior officers of the Sri Lankan Army during the visit, the Indian Army said.

Gen. Naravane laid a wreath at Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKP) War Memorial and paid tributes to the bravehearts of the Indian Army who laid down their lives during the Peace Keeping Operations in Sri Lanka. He also interacted with the veterans of the Sri Lankan Army.

He had served in the IPKP in Sri Lanka’s north and east from 1987-1990.

“(His) Visit will pave (the) way for deeper cooperation in defence between India and Sri Lanka,” the Indian High Commission here said in a tweet on Tuesday.

During his visit, Gen Naravane is expected to call on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

On Thursday, he will witness the final demonstration of the ongoing bilateral Exercise ‘Mitra Shakti’ at Maduru Oya Special Forces Training School in the east.

India and Sri Lanka last week began a 12-day mega military exercise with a focus on enhancing counter-terror cooperation at the Combat Training School in the island nation’s eastern district of Ampara.

The eighth edition of the ‘Mitra Shakti’ exercise from October 4 to 15 got underway with the participation of an all arms contingent of 120 Indian Army personnel, headed by Colonel Prakash Kumar.

The joint military exercise has been designed to enhance understanding of transnational terrorism, inter-operability skills, conduct of joint tactical operations, sharing of each other’s best practices and experiences, the Sri Lanka Army said.

The annual training programme, which has largely contributed to strengthen bilateral military cooperation, understanding and bonds of neighbourly relations between both services, takes place alternately either in India or Sri Lanka every year, it added.

Gen. Naravane’s visit is taking place a week after Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla visited Sri Lanka and met the country’s top leadership and underscored the importance India attaches to expeditiously taking forward mutually beneficial projects. Mr Shringla had also thanked President Rajapaksa for his guidance and close cooperation in the defence and security sphere.

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