Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe reaches New Delhi

New Delhi: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe reached New Delhi today on a three-day visit in a bid to boost ties in a range of areas including trade and investment and maritime security.

Mr Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold wide-ranging talks on Saturday.

"You are aware of close friendship between India and Sri Lanka. Development cooperation will be one of the agenda items," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing.

He said, "All shades of political opinion in Sri Lanka are for close relationship with India. We do enjoy very strong bonds of friendship."

The two sides are also likely to review the status of the India-assisted housing projects in Jaffna during Mr Wickremesinghe's visit. They are also likely to deliberate on the Tamil issue -- the reconciliation process and devolution of powers in Tamil-dominated areas.

Sources said both sides are expected to discuss modalities of India taking charge of operating Sri Lanka's loss-making Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Hambantota.

The $210 million facility, 241 km south-east of Colombo, is dubbed the "world's emptiest airport" due to a lack of flights.

India is likely to operate the airport under a joint venture with the island nation.

During the visit, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will also call on Mr Wickremesinghe.

The visit comes in the backdrop of controversial media reports that the Lankan President had accused Indian intelligence agency RAW of plotting his assassination, a claim firmly rejected by Sri Lanka.