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Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe praised India’s support for his country amid the economic crisis at the opening of the Jaffna Cultural Centre (JCC).

“We appreciate the support extended by the Indian government to Sri Lanka to overcome the debt trap during the economic crisis,” he said on Saturday.

The president highlighted the ongoing discussions between the two nations on economic development projects in the Northern Province, development projects in the Trincomalee Port, and the energy sector.

The Jaffna Cultural Centre, built with funding from the Indian government, was officially opened Saturday.

The event was attended by the Sri Lanka president along with India’s Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, Dr L Murugan—who is on a four-day visit to Sri Lanka from February 9-12—High Commissioner of India Gopal Bagalay, and other dignitaries.

President Wickremesinghe also pointed out the cultural similarities between the two countries.

“The Jaffna Cultural Centre is a common centre, and I always maintain that the cultures of our two countries cannot be separated. Sri Lanka and India are two sides of the same coin and our shared culture should be conserved and protected. This is why the JCC is such a significant gift,” he said.

The Jaffna Cultural Centre features a museum, a 600-seat theatre-style auditorium, a 11-story learning tower, an exhibition gallery, a 100-seat conference facility, and more.

The foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Modi in 2015, and it was virtually inaugurated by External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar in 2022.

The Indian minister, on his part, spoke about India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy, which guides their partnership with Sri Lanka.

He announced a special financial assistance program for 100 students from low-income families at the University of Jaffna. He highlighted India’s numerous people-centric projects in the Northern Province.

The Jaffna Cultural Centre is seen as India’s commitment to the people of Sri Lanka, including the Northern Province.

India’s development partnership with Sri Lanka is worth $5 billion and covers various aspects of daily life, including infrastructure, education, health, housing, and livelihood development.

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