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Army Chief Gen V K Singh visits Sri Lanka to boost defence cooperation

COLOMBO: Army Chief Gen V K Singh arrived here on Sunday on a five-day visit which is expected to provide an impetus to defence cooperation between India and Sri Lanka and lay the ground for a bilateral defence dialogue.

Singh, who is accompanied by his wife, was received by his Sri Lankan counterpart Lt Gen Jagath Jayasuriya at the airport on Sunday.

Singh, during his stay here is scheduled to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister D M Jayaratne, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and External Affairs Minister G L Peires.

His visit is considered preparatory to the Indo-Lanka defence dialogue that is scheduled to begin next year.

The Indian Army chief will be given a ceremonial guard of honour tomorrow before he begins discussions with Jayasuriya and other top military officials of Sri Lanka.

General Singh served in the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) during Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka in 1987.

He will tomorrow pay floral tributes at the memorial for the IPKF soldiers and officers, who were killed during the war with the LTTE.

Singh will be the first Indian Army Chief to visit the memorial, since the time it was erected.

The Indian army chief, who was awarded the ‘Yudh Sena Medal’ for his distinguished service during ‘Operation Pawan’ against the LTTE in Sri Lanka, is also expected to visit the war-ravaged Vavuniya in the North on Tuesday.

Media reports said that also on the anvil are visits by Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar to Sri Lanka.

Naval chief Admiral Nirmal Verma had visited Sri Lanka in June.

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