Gotabhaya Rajapaksa makes a quiet visit to India

NEW DELHI, February 20: Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa paid an unpublicized five-day semi-official visit to India last week and met top officials here, The Sunday Island can now reveal.

Rajapaksa’s visit to India at this point of time assumes significance.

Having swept the January 26 presidential election with an impressive majority, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his team appear confident of procuring a near two-third majority in the April 8 parliamentary election. In the post-LTTE era, Team Rajapaksa is looking to charter a new course of action for the next seven years.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa came here to share ideas and exchange views with Indian policy-makers on Sri Lanka’s development and rehabilitation plans, and about finding out how India can help in the mammoth task of rebuilding the civil war-ravaged northern and eastern provinces.

He arrived here on Sunday February 14. He attended the February 15 inauguration of DefExpo 2010, the biannual exhibition of land and naval defence systems that India hosts, the biggest military equipment show in South Asia.

Accompanied by Lanka Logistics Director Jayantha Wickremesinghe, he spent a good deal of time at the exhibition the next day.

Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony inaugurated the exhibition. Rajapaksa had an informal meeting with Antony.

On Wednesday, Rajapaksa and his wife, Iomi, paid a day-long visit to Bodh Gaya.

On Thursday, he met National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar.

Rao hosted a working lunch for Rajapaksa and his team.

The Sunday Island understands that Rajapaksa thoroughly briefed his Indian interlocutors about the reasons behind the military detention of retired Army Chief and defeated opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka, and assured them that he is being dealt with as per the law of the land.

Rajapaksa and his team flew back home on Friday.

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