Narendra Modi and Ranil Wickremesinghe pay their respects to victims of the Easter Sunday suicide attacks in Colombo. AFP
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday made an unscheduled stop at a Catholic church bombed during the Easter suicide attacks ahead of his official welcome to Sri Lanka.
Modi's entourage made a detour to St Anthony's shrine on their way to President Maithripala Sirisena's office, where a red carpet military parade awaited.
"I am confident Sri Lanka will rise again," Modi said on Twitter while posting photos of himself at the church.
"Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka."
Modi is stopping in Colombo on his return home after an official visit to neighbouring Maldives, where he inaugurated a coastal radar system and military training centre.
His brief but politically significant visit to the two neighbours comes as New Delhi seeks to fend off Chinese influence on the strategic nations.
The Maldives, a low-lying archipelago of more than a thousand tiny coral islands south of the Indian subcontinent, straddles the world's busiest east-west maritime route.
Sri Lanka is located at a halfway point on the same sea route.
India, the traditional ally of both Sri Lanka and the Maldives, had watched with unease as former governments of strongman leader Abdulla Yameen of the Maldives and Sri Lanka's Mahinda Rajapakse leaned towards Beijing for political and financial support.
Yameen's election loss last September, however, has seen the new administration under President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih swing back towards New Delhi.
Colombo too has moved back to New Delhi after the defeat of Rajapakse in January 2015.
Last month, Colombo announced entering into partnership with India and Japan to develop a deep-sea container terminal next to a controversial $500-million Chinese-run facility in the capital.
India on Friday announced lines of credit amounting to $450 million to Sri Lanka as its newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Rohit Sharma became the first player to hit five centuries in a single World Cup as India cantered to a comfortable seven-wicket win in their final World Cup group match against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
A gritty century by Angelo Mathews lifted Sri Lanka to 264-7 against India after a top-order collapse on Saturday, the final day of the World Cup group stage.
In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed concern over escalating violence in Afghanistan during the past weeks.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper will meet their Indian counterparts for strategic and security talks on Tuesday, after which Pompeo will travel on to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia.
The number of deaths over 24 hours has remained broadly stable since the beginning of autumn, with between 700 and 800. On Saturday the US recorded 906 deaths, the Johns Hopkins tracker showed.
The World Health Organization has warned of an "exponential" rise in infections threatening health systems' ability to cope with a second wave of the pandemic, testing many nations that appeared to have the virus under control earlier this year.