Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to inaugurate Sri Lankan hydropower and irrigation project

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Sri Lanka on Wednesday to inaugurate a hydropower and irrigation project that was long delayed due to international sanctions on his government and other issues.

Raisi is the first Iranian leader to visit Sri Lanka since former President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad visited the country in 2008.

The project, valued at $514 million, was started in 2010 by Iran’s FARAB engineering group and Iran initially provided $50 million. But in 2013, funding could not be continued because of international sanctions against Iran. The Sri Lankan government then decided to complete the project with its own funds using the same Iranian contractor.

The project was scheduled for completion in 2015 but was delayed by the sanctions, technical issues and the COVID-19 pandemic, the government said.

The project will add 290 GWh of electricity annually to the national grid and irrigate 4,500 hectares (11,100 acres) of new land and 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of existing agricultural land.

Raisi and Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe are to witness the signing of five memoranda of understanding and are scheduled to issue a joint statement.

Raisi arrived in Sri Lanka from Pakistan, where the two countries agreed to strengthen economic and security cooperation.

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