In Sri Lanka, the military conflict in the North escalated in 2008 leading to a major humanitarian crisis and the eventual military defeat of the LTTE. The situation in the North and the plight of Tamil civilians displaced and affected by the conflict were important issues in the bilateral discourse between India and Sri Lanka. The then EAM visited Colombo on January 27, 2009 and held discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This was preceded by Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon’s visit to Sri Lanka on 16-17 January, 2009
In response to the emerging humanitarian crises in Sri Lanka, India sent large-scale emergency relief assistance including family packs for IDPs, medicines and setting up of a 62 member Emergency Field Hospital in Northern Sri Lanka. India also remained engaged with Sri Lanka in support of a peacefully negotiated political settlement within a united Sri Lanka.
Bilateral exchanges continued to strengthen during this period. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and EAM Shri Pranab Mukherjee visited Sri Lanka for the 15th SAARC Summit held from 2-3rd August, 2008. Trade and investment linkages were further consolidated India remained Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner in 2008 with bilateral trade worth US$ 3.27 billion. India also emerged as the second largest investor in Sri Lanka in 2008.