India strongly believes that its economic growth must bring benefits to its neighbours, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday as a stadium in Jaffna renovated by India was jointly inaugurated by him along with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
While thanking India for its assistance, Sirisena said Lanka was committed to strengthening bilateral relations even though there may be wrong understandings and interpretations at times.
Modi, along with Sirisena, inaugurated the Duraiappah Stadium, named in honour of a former Mayor of Jaffna late Alfred Thambirajah Duraiappah.
The stadium, in disuse since 1997, has been renovated by the Indian government at a cost of over Rs 7 crore.
Describing it as a "landmark day", Modi assured Sri Lanka that India will "walk side by side" with the country as it charts its own path to progress and prosperity for all its citizens.
"India desires to see an economically prosperous Sri Lanka. A Sri Lanka where unity and integrity, peace, harmony security and equal opportunity and dignity prevails throughout the country among all its peoples," Modi said on the occasion, speaking via video-conferencing from New Delhi.
"Our relations are not limited to the confines of our two governments, they reside in the rich context of our history, culture, language, art and geography. India strongly believes that its economic growth must drive and bring benefit to its neighbours," he said
Modi said the modern tools of communication have enabled 1.25 billion people of India and the friendly people of Sri Lanka to "join in this celebration".
"After a wait of nearly 20 years your applause and cheers will once again rekindle the soul of Duraiappah stadium. Even while we are sitting thousands of kilometres away in Delhi, we can feel the pulse of vibrancy, an atmosphere of change in Jaffna," Modi said.
The renovated stadium, with a seating capacity of 1,850, will provide the necessary infrastructure to promote sports and recreational activities and assist the overall development of the youth of the war-ravaged Northern Province.
"The Duraiappah Stadium is not just brick and mortar. It is a symbol of optimism and economic development. An arena of prosperous and healthy future of Jaffna's youth. It demonstrates your determination to shed the legacy of violance and pursue the path of economic progress," the Prime Minister said.
President Sirisena thanked the Indian government for its assistance and support for Sri Lanka's development.