Colombo, Mar 23 (PTI) The Sri Lankan government on Monday pledged to contribute USD 5 million to the SAARC Coronavirus Emergency Fund proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an initial offer of USD 10 million from India to help combat the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic in the region, according to a media report on Monday.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's office said that the contribution is on an entirely voluntary basis, Colombo Page reported.
President Rajapaksa has pledged to contribute USD 5 million to the SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund set up under the leadership of India for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, his office said.
'Sincerely thank President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa for contributing USD 5 million to the SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund. Our cooperation will go a long way in fighting this disease effectively,' Prime Minister Modi tweeted.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that he spoke to his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena and reviewed follow-up to the SAARC COVID-19 summit decisions.
'As good neighbours, we work closely to address the COVID-19 disruptions. Look forward to keeping in touch,' Jaishankar said in a tweet.
In a video conference on forming a joint strategy to fight COVID-19 in the SAARC region, Prime Minister Modi on March 15 proposed the emergency fund with an initial offer of USD 10 million from India and asserted that the best way to deal with the coronavirus pandemic was by coming together, and not growing apart.
Subsequently, Nepal and Afghanistan pledged USD 1 million each, Maldives committed USD 200,000, Bhutan USD 100,000 and Bangladesh pledged USD 1.5 million to the fund.
Pakistan is now the only country left to declare its contribution to the fund.
Founded in 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation and geopolitical union of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Apart from Modi, Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepalese Prime Minister Oli, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza, had participated in the video conference. PTI SCY CPS