Colombo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent a congratulatory letter to his newly-appointed Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena and assured India’s support to the people of the island nation, which is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, the High Commission of India here said on Monday.
Gunawardena, a veteran politician and a close ally of the Rajapaksa family, was appointed Sri Lanka’s prime minister by President Ranil Wickremesinghe on July 22.
“PM @narendramodi sent a congratulatory letter to PM H.E @DCRGunawardena. PM assured that as a dependable friend and close neighbour, India shall continue to support the people of Sri Lanka,” the Indian mission said in a tweet.
Prime Minister Modi also expressed hope that Sri Lanka will witness quick economic recovery, ensuring the prosperity and well-being of its people, it added.
A stalwart of Sri Lankan politics, Gunawardena, 73, earlier served as the foreign minister and education minister. He was appointed as Home Minister in April by then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The prime minister’s post fell vacant after Wickremesinghe, 73, was sworn in as the country’s eighth president after Rajapaksa fled the country and then resigned as president last month.
Last week, Modi congratulated President Wickremesinghe and said that India will continue to be supportive of the quest of the people of the island nation for stability and economic recovery, through established democratic means.
The new Sri Lankan government faces the task of leading the country out of its economic collapse and restoring order after months of mass protests that forced President Rajapaksa to flee the country and resign.
The Indian government’s assistance to Sri Lanka has reached almost USD 4 billion since January this year.
Sri Lanka needs about USD 5 billion in the next six months to cover basic necessities for its 22 million people, who have been struggling with long queues, worsening shortages and power cuts.
The country is currently holding talks with the IMF and other foreign countries on financial aid to tide over the current economic crisis.