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Amid tension in Middle East, Iranian President arrives in Sri Lanka

April 24, 2024

Colombo, April 24

Amid the tension in the Middle East, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Sri Lanka following his three-day visit to Pakistan.

Tight security was imposed across the country, especially closing all roads where the Iranian President is scheduled to travel during the one-day visit to the island nation.

Police spokesman and Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Nihal Thalduwa said that additional security personnel from Army, Navy, Air Force and the police elite force, Police Special Task Force (STF) have been deployed to provide extra security for the visiting dignitary.

"The security programme will cover areas where the Iranian President is due to travel to," Thalduwa said, adding that multiple roads would be closed to provide special security to the Iranian President.

Visiting on the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, President Raisi is scheduled to inaugurate the much-delayed Uma Oya Multipurpose Development Project (UOMDP), one of the largest irrigation and hydro-electricity projects in Sri Lanka.

"A highlight of President Raisi's visit will be the signing of five memorandums of understanding (MoUs), aimed at bolstering bilateral relations between Iran and Sri Lanka," the President Media Division (PMD) announced.

Originally started in 2008, the project is aimed to provide irrigation water to about 4,500 hectares of new land and 1,500 hectares of existing agricultural land in the Monaragala district and three districts getting 39 million cubic meters (MCM) of water for drinking and industrial purposes and also to generate 290 GWh of electrical energy annually to the National Grid.

The total $514 million contract became effective on March 15, 2010. Initially, the Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI) was to fund USD 50 million until 2013, but due to international sanctions against Iran, funds could not be provided. However, the project was continued with Sri Lankan funds and with the Iranian contractor Farab Company.

Due to financial challenges, disruptions caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic and protests due to environmental damages, the completion date was changed to March 2024 from March 2015.



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