India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval poses for a photograph. File photo/AFP
Sri Lanka and India vowed to strengthen military ties and widen maritime links with neighbouring countries after security talks, the president's office said on Sunday, to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.
China, a long-time regional rival of India, has been widening its footprint in the region, including building ports and upgrading airports in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met on Saturday with recently elected Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and discussed setting up a maritime coordination centre, Rajapaksa's office said in a statement.
It did not give details of the proposed centre, but said other nations in the region should be included as observers.
It said the two countries also discussed closer military and coastguard cooperation.
The meeting followed Rajapaksa's visit to New Delhi in late November for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who offered $450 million in aid to Sri Lanka after his landslide victory in the presidential election.
Sri Lanka has traditionally been allied to India, but China invested and loaned billions of dollars to the island nation during the decade-long reign of Rajapaksa's elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa.
China's foreign minister Wang Yi also held talks with President Rajapaksa on Tuesday during a brief transit stop in Colombo.
"As Sri Lanka's strategic partner, China will continue to stand by Sri Lanka's interests," Rajapaksa's office quoted Wang as saying.
Rajapaksa in December warned India and Western nations that Sri Lanka would be forced to seek more finance from China if they do not invest in the island.
Sri Lanka was forced to hand over the strategic Hambantota port south of Colombo to China in 2017 on a 99-year lease after the government at the time said it was unable to repay loans taken to build it.
Troops remained on alert at the Galwan Valley in the Ladakh region of the western Himalayas three days after the clashes, in which India said China had also suffered casualties. China has not given details of any deaths or injuries among its troops.
The External Affairs Ministry said in statement that a meeting between Indian and Chinese military commanders at a border post in the Himalayan region on Saturday took place in a "cordial and positive atmosphere.”
The People's Liberation Army soldier was apprehended in the Demchok area of eastern Ladakh, and would be returned after the completion of formalities, the Indian army said in a statement.
The India-China face-off on the Himalayan heights has entered the fifth month. Several rounds of talks at military and diplomatic levels have not led to disengagement at any of the several points where soldiers of the two sides are facing each other.
The Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched the service of issuing (a Transit Visa for Stop-over electronically), to facilitate the arrival in the Kingdom for all purposes, and the procedures for obtaining and automating an entry visa.
The Ministry of Interior has warned the public against responding to suspicious phone calls and messages that they receive from people claiming to update the user’s personal data in the Ministry of Interior’s system and requesting to provide them with the information in a text message (OTP).
The South Asian nation is facing a balance of payments crisis and the plummeting value of the Pakistani rupee is pushing up the price of imported goods. Energy comprises a large chunk of Pakistan's import bill.