India’s Modi visits bombed Sri Lanka church, vows support after attacks

India’s Modi visits bombed Sri Lanka church, vows support after attacks
India's Modi visits bombed Sri Lanka church, vows support after attacks

Indian Prime Minister NarendraModi on Sunday honoured those killed by Islamist militants in Sri Lanka'sEaster bombings, vowing support for the island nation as Delhi seeks to counterthe rise of China in the region.

The hours-long stop in Sri Lankawas part of Modi's first overseas trip after winning a second term. He arrivedfrom the Maldives, where on Saturday he called for a global conference totackle the threat of terrorism.

In recent years, China's presencehas grown in both in Sri Lanka and in the Maldives as Beijing financedinfrastructure projects and sought closer military ties, especially for itsnavy. The debt from those projects has, however, become a burden for bothcountries.

India is pursuing what it calls a"neighbourhood first" foreign policy centred on its allies in SouthAsia, although there is little sign of a warming in relations with arch rivalPakistan.

"India never forgets herfriends when they are in need," Modi, the first foreign leader to visitSri Lanka since the attacks, tweeted after touching down.

Modi later prayed and placed flowersat St. Anthony's Shrine, a Catholic church in Colombo that was bombed on April21 along with two other churches and four hotels.

"I am confident Sri Lankawill rise again. Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of SriLanka," Modi later tweeted.

On Thursday, Indian ForeignSecretary Vijay Gokhale said India would continue to provide support to SriLanka in the fight against extremist groups.

New Delhi is also looking at moremultilateral investment projects, modelled on a draft agreement to develop aport terminal with Japan in Colombo that was signed last month, he said. 

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