India will lend Sri Lanka 400 million dollars for infrastructure projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday after talks with the island nation’s new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa aimed at improving bilateral ties.
Sri Lanka, located off the southern tip of India, has become an arena of competing for influence between New Delhi and China.
China had built ports, power stations and highways as part of President Xi Jinping’s signature “Belt and Road Initiative”, designed to boost trade and transport links across Asia.
But the terms of some of those projects have drawn criticism from politicians in Sri Lanka.
The criticism had opened the way for countries such as India, the U.S., and Japan to rebuild ties in the Indian Ocean country that lies near key shipping lanes.
Rajapaksa was on his first visit to India after a sweeping election victory earlier this month won on a platform promising to pull the country out of its deepest economic slump in more than 15 years.
Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s former wartime defense chief, told reporters he wanted to take bilateral ties with India to a “very high level”.
Modi said India would provide Sri Lanka with 50 million dollars for its security needs in addition to the 400 million dollars for infrastructure.
“India is fully committed to the development of Sri Lanka,” he said.