New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will embark on a three-day visit to Sri Lanka today and is expected to discuss various issues of mutual and bilateral interests with the country's top leadership. He is also likely to push for the release of Indian fishermen and hold talks on stalled Colombo port project as well.

Notably, Jaishankar becomes the first foreign dignitary to visit the island in 2021 and his visit will be the first since President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assumed full presidential powers through the twentieth amendment to the Constitution adopted last year.

The Indian Foreign Minister will meet President Rajapaksa, PM Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena.

His visit takes place amidst concerns raised by the Colombo Port trade unions on a proposed joint venture with India on the Colombo Port's Eastern Container Terminal. The unions and leftist opposition groups have been mounting public opposition to the port deal.

Jaishankar's visit also adds significance as the Colombo government's allies have in the recent weeks mounted pressure to abolish the provincial council system established in 1987.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) released a statement confirming S Jaishankar's visit to the island nation from December 5 to 7, following an invitation by Gunawardena.

In the statement, the MEA said, "He (Jaishankar) will hold discussions with his counterpart and Sri Lanka's leadership on the entire gamut of bilateral relations."

"As such, it signifies the priority both countries attach to strengthening their close and cordial relations in all spheres of mutual interest," the statement read.

The Indian Foreign Minister’s visit has come less than a week after India called on Sri Lanka to release 40 Indian fishermen and six boats apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy. India had also urged the island nation to provide necessary facilitation and assistance, such as consular access, to the fishermen.

The discussion took place during the fourth meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries on December 31. The Indian delegation reaffirmed commitment to working constructively with their Sri Lankan counterparts to address all issues related to fishermen and their livelihoods, in line with past commitments.

Also, Jaishankar is likely to raise the matter of apprehended fishermen and boats with the top leadership of Sri Lanka.

(With inputs from agencies)