NEW DELHI: In a sign that Sri Lanka under its new leader, President Maithripala Sirisena, is veering towards India as a partner of first choice, India’s neighbour across the Palk Strait on Monday signed a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with India. This is the first time that India’s strategically located neighbour in the Indian Ocean has entered into such a cooperation with any country. The agreement was signed in the presence of PM Narendra Modi and Sirisena who is in India on his first overseas visit as president.
“The bilateral agreement on civil nuclear cooperation is yet another demonstration of our mutual trust,” said Modi in a joint statement. India’s recent understanding with the US in peaceful uses of nuclear energy paved the way for the deal with Sri Lanka, said sources. Sri Lanka’s readiness to sign the nuclear agreement is being seen as a breakthrough because its former president Mahinda Rajapaksa had repeatedly expressed concern over the likely impact of radiation from India’s nuclear reactors located at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.