FILE PHOTO: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hands with Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa prior to a meeting in New Delhi on February 8, 2020. - (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)

INDIA AND SRI LANKA have agreed to deepen their overall defence and trade ties as well as expansion of existing cooperation in several key areas.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on Saturday(26) held wide-ranging talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa.

In his opening remarks at a virtual bilateral summit, Modi said he was confident that the massive electoral victory of the ruling party in Sri Lanka backed by the Rajapaksa government’s policies will facilitate deeper cooperation between the two countries.

“An opportunity has come to begin a new chapter in India-Sri Lanka ties after your party’s electoral victory. People from both the countries are looking at us with new hope and expectations,” Modi said.

Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka People’s Front had secured a two-third majority in the recently held parliamentary polls.

He was sworn in as Sri Lankan prime minister for a fresh term on August 9.

Modi said India gives priority to its relations with Sri Lanka as he mentioned his government’s neighbourhood-first policy as well as SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) doctrine.

It was Modi’s first such virtual bilateral engagement with a leader of a neighbouring country.

It was alsoRajapaksa’s first diplomatic engagement with a leader of a foreign country after he was sworn in as prime minister.