India, Sri Lanka consider plans to build land link
Indian Prime Minister Modi said that feasibility studies will be carried out on the project.
Indian and Sri Lankan authorities on Friday agreed to consider the construction of a land link between the two countries.
In a strategic document issued on Friday, the two parties said that "land connectivity" in the Palk Strait would facilitate access to key ports in India and Sri Lanka, thus enabling economic growth and prosperity to unfold.
Earlier today, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe concluded a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which both discussed establishing land connectivity and a petroleum pipeline.
After the talks, Modi said that feasibility studies would be carried out on both projects.
In the year 2022, Sri Lanka saw waves of protests over shortages of basic necessities such as food, fuel, and medicine.
India then provided assistance worth $4 billion in aid to Colombo despite that the country had defaulted on its foreign debt.
"Sri Lanka faced many challenges last year but like a close friend we stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Sri Lanka in the time of crisis," Modi said.
Concerns over growing "Chinese presence"
During their talks, the two leaders also raised to attention that China's growing presence in Sri Lanka was cause for concern.
In July 2017, a Chinese firm acquired a 99-year lease on the southern port of Hambantota after Sri Lanka found itself unable to repay a loan from Beijing to build the port.
China has also invested $1.4 billion in its BRI funds on reclaimed land off Colombo's coast -- a move that India suspects is intended to facilitate Beijing's spying activities.
As part of its Belt and Road Initiative, China has struck several deals across the region, investing in countries' infrastructures and capabilities.
But the projects have been regarded as cause for concern by key global rivals, including India with whom China shares tense relations on the border.
Last year, security concerns were raised after a Chinese research vessel, Yuan Wang 5, made a port call in Hambantota. New Delhi was swift to call the vessel a spying ship.
"The Sri Lankan side did convey to us their sensitivity and respect for our security and strategic concerns relating to what happens in our maritime domain," India's foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said at a press briefing.