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With an aim to re-engage at diplomatic and political levels, an all-arms contingent of 120 personnel of the Indian Army on Saturday departed for Sri Lanka joint exercise Mitra Shakti.

The exercise will be conducted at Combat Training School, Ampara in Sri Lanka from 4 to 15 October. The Indian Army will participate along with a battalion of the Sri Lankan Army.

"The aim of the exercise is to promote close relations between armies of both countries and enhance inter-operability and sharing best practices in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations," a statement by the ministry of defence read.

The eighth edition of the exercise will involve tactical level operations at the sub-unit level in an international counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism environment and will go a long way in further strengthening the relationship between both the South Asian nations, as per the statement. 

It will also act as a catalyst in bringing synergy and cooperation at the grass-root level between both Armies, the ministry informed.

The seventh edition of Exercise Mitra Shakti was conducted at Foreign Training Node (FTN)in Maharashtra, India back in 2019.

Deepening ties 

After a lean phase, India and Sri Lanka have decided to re-engage amidst the huge financial crisis and the severe Covid-19 wave that has gripped the island country.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla will be in Sri Lanka on Saturday on a three-day visit, where he will call on top leadership including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Foreign Minister GL Pieris and his counterpart Jayanth Colombage.

During his trip, the Foreign Secretary will also travel to Kandy, Trincomalee and Jaffna and also visit Jaffna cultural centre which is being built with India's assistance.

As an immediate neighbour, India has stepped on the accelerator and is being a first responder to the Covid crisis in Sri Lanka. New Delhi has supplied to Colombo 100 tons of liquid medical oxygen, 26 tons of medicines and delivered half a million Covid vaccines.

India has also aided the Suwa Seriya programme and provided free ambulances which now runs in all provinces of Sri Lanka and played an instrumental role in its fight against Covid-19.

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