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India Signs Civil Nuclear Pact with Sri Lanka
Feb 18, 2015

India has sealed a Nuclear Energy agreement with Sri Lanka, its first breakthrough with the new government of its neighbouring island where China has been building ports and highways in a diplomatic push in recent years.  In a sign of a closer strategic partnership between Sri Lanka’s new government and India, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded a civil nuclear cooperation. Both countries also inked three other agreements for Nalanda University, Cultural Cooperation and Agricultural Cooperation.

Key Points :

  • It is Sri Lanka’s first nuclear partnership with any country.

  • India will help Sri Lanka build its nuclear energy infrastructure, including training of personnel.

  • Later, India could also sell light small-scale nuclear reactors to Sri Lanka.

  • The bilateral agreement on civil nuclear cooperation is yet another demonstration of mutual trust of both countries. 

  • The agreement on nuclear cooperation was an initial one and would not lead to the construction of nuclear energy reactors immediately.

  • The agreement would facilitate cooperation in the transfer and exchange of knowledge and expertise, sharing of resources, capacity building and training of personnel in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including use of radioisotopes, nuclear safety, radiation safety, nuclear security, radioactive waste management and nuclear and radiological disaster mitigation and environmental protection.

  • Besides nuclear pact, three agreements on agricultural cooperation, a memorandum of understanding on Nalanda University and an agreement on cultural cooperation were also signed.

  • The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on establishment of Nalanda University would enable Sri Lanka to participate in the Nalanda University Project.

  • The agreement on Cultural Cooperation for 2015-18 is aimed to enhance the level of cooperation in a wide variety of fields such as performing arts, visual arts, libraries, museums, archives and cultural documentation, archaeology, handicrafts, publications and professional exchanges.

  • The Work-Plan 2014-2015 under the MoU for Agricultural Cooperation is aimed to facilitate bilateral cooperation in agro processing, agricultural extension, horticulture, agricultural machinery, training in farm mechanisation, livestock diseases, etc. between relevant institutes and organisations from both countries.

  • On the conflict between Tamil fishermen from India accused of trespassing into Sri Lankan waters, India said a solution must be found by the fishermen’s associations of both countries as it affected the livelihood of people in both countries.

  • India is Sri Lanka's largest trading partner. India is ready to promote greater flow of Indian investments and tourists into Sri Lanka. The Commerce Secretaries from both countries will meet soon to review their bilateral commercial relations.

  • India will help Sri Lanka with development, including in the area of infrastructure.

  • The two countries will improve air and sea connectivity between them.

  • Sri Lanka and India will expand their defence and security cooperation.

This is a good sign for healthy ties between the two countries, especially given India's growing fear of China’s proximity to Sri Lanka, which is perceived as a security threat for India. India had grown increasingly wary of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's pursuit of closer ties with China, which became a key supporter of the island's economy after its 26-year-civil war ended in 2009. China has built a seaport in the south of the country and signed a deal to develop a $1.5 billion port next to the commercial port in Colombo, raising fears China is seeking to boost its influence in the region. Ties worsened further after the Rajapaksa government allowed Chinese submarines to dock last year.

Next month Indian Prime Minister plans to travel to Sri Lanka and the Maldives where too China is seen to be expanding its diplomacy as part of a strategy to build a network of ports in the Indian Ocean through which much of its trade and energy supplies transit.


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