Coronavirus pandemic could not dent India's bilateral cooperation with Lanka: Jaishankar

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Colombo, Jan 6 (PTI) The coronavirus pandemic has not dented India's bilateral cooperation with Sri Lanka and New Delhi is looking at post-COVID cooperation with Colombo, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said here on Wednesday.

Jaishankar is on a three-day visit here from December 5 to 7 following an invitation by his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena. It is his first foreign visit of the year. This is also the first by a foreign dignitary to Sri Lanka in the new year. During a media interaction here after his meeting with Gunawardena, Jaishankar noted that the coronavirus pandemic has not been able to dent the bilateral ties between India and Sri Lanka.

'In fact high level contacts were maintained and indeed strengthened during the past year,' said Jaishankar.

'We are now looking at post-COVID cooperation with Sri Lanka,' he said.

The minister also noted Sri Lanka's interest in accessing vaccines from India.

Assuring that India will be a 'dependable and reliable partner' of Lanka, Jaishankar said the country is open to strengthening its relationship with the island nation on the basis of 'mutual trust, mutual interest, mutual respect and mutual sensitivity'.

He also underlined that both the neighbours are now facing immediate challenges of post-COVID recovery.

'This is not just a public health issue but also a crisis of the economy,' Jaishankar said. PTI SCY AKJ SCY