India PM arrives in Sri Lanka for UN Buddhist celebration

May 11, 2017

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived in Sri Lanka to attend a U.N. celebration of Buddha's birth and hold talks with leaders of the island nation

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Sri Lanka on Thursday to attend a U.N. celebration of Buddha's birth and hold talks with leaders of the island nation.

Modi was welcomed at the airport by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The Indian leader will participate in the U.N. celebration on Friday, after which he is to travel to the tea-growing hill country to open a hospital built with Indian assistance largely for the benefit of descendants of tea plantation workers brought from India by British colonial rulers in the 19th century.

Though it is not a state visit, Modi is also scheduled to hold talks with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and meet ethnic Tamil leaders to discuss a political solution to the decades-long ethnic conflict.

Opposition politicians led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa accuse the government of planning to give India a World War II oil depot near a strategic natural harbor.

The government has said it plans to lease part of the tanks, but that details have not been worked out.