'India worried over situation in Sri Lanka, drawing comparisons inappropriate,' says S Jaishankar


New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said there is a very serious crisis in Sri Lanka and India has approached the situation in the neighbouring country in a very humanistic way as part of its neighbourhood first policy.

The minister told the all-party meeting that the situation in Sri Lanka is unprecedented and India is worried about it but drawing comparisons is uninformed.

Briefing reporters after the all-party meeting which was attended by representatives of 28 political parties, the minister said if there is instability in any neighbouring country or any violence, "that is a matter of deep concern to us".

Referring to USD 3.8 billion support that India has given to Sri Lanka, he said "no other country has given this level of support". Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis in seven decades.

The minister said that big lessons of Sri Lanka are to be drawn on fiscal prudence and good governance and under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, "we have both in very ample measure".

Jaishankar said that fishermen's issue also came up during the meeting.

"We have long-standing issues there. Some of the issues came up in terms of fishermen's issues.

"So, naturally the level of concern, as well as the worry that there would be spillover to India, is there. If there is instability in any neighbouring country or any violence, that is a matter of deep concern to us," he said.

The minister said many members were concerned about lessons of Sri Lanka and "we had anticipated that question".

"We also have seen some very misplaced speculation in press saying something has happened in Sri Lanka so should we be worrying about situations in parts of India," he said.

"So, we had asked Finance Ministry to make a presentation that brought out, statewise, the expenditure to the revenue comparison, liabilities to GSDP, growth rate or liablities of various Indian states, budget borrowings that they have done, mortgaging of assets.

"The unpaid power dues to GENCOMs and DISCOMs and the outstanding guarantees that states have. So we had a very good discussion. Members were very keen to know how much we have done," he added.

The minister said that as Sri Lanka's discussions with IMF go forward, India will give whatever support it can give in terms of working with relevant agencies.

"We've approached it(Sri Lanka situation)in a very humanistic way as part of our neighbourhood first policy. They're still in a very delicate situation. As their discussions with IMF go forward, whatever support we can give in terms of working with relevant agencies, we'll do," he said.

He said there were two presentations during the meeting including that from a political perspective

"We had done two presentations. One was done from a political perspective, from a foreign policy perspective which explained to all leaders that the political turbulence in Sri Lanka, economic crisis which was there - the debt situation," he said.

"The support that India has given of 3.8 Billion dollars assistance - no other country has given this level of support to Sri Lanka this yr & the initiative that we're taking -how to help them & facilitate their engagement with other bodies including IMF and other debtors," he added.

He said the meeting was government initiative and 38 leaders from political parties attended the meeting.

"There's a very serious crisis in Sri Lanka, the situation there is unprecedented in terms of what we are seeing and the financial, social and political consequences of that. It's our very close neighbour," he said.

In his remarks at the all-party meeting, Jaishankar said that the situation in Sri Lanka is unprecedented "and India is worried about it". "But drawing comparisons is uninformed," he said

The minister said 46 parties were invited for the meeting. There were eight ministers, including Pralhad Joshi and Purshottam Rupala," he said.

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'India worried over situation in Sri Lanka, drawing comparisons inappropriate,' says S Jaishankar
'India worried over situation in Sri Lanka, drawing comparisons inappropriate,' says S Jaishankar
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