Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared Friday his desire for a "quantum jump" in relations with Sri Lanka, as New Delhi jostles with regional rival Beijing for influence in the island nation.
India had always considered its smaller neighbour to be within its sphere of influence but watched Sri Lanka drift closer to China under former strongman President Mahinda Rajapakse.
Modi's visit to Sri Lanka -- his second since coming to power in 2014 -- is being seen as New Delhi's attempt to win back support and counter Beijing's push for closer ties with the Indian Ocean nation.
"I believe we are at a moment of great opportunity in our ties with Sri Lanka. An opportunity to achieve a quantum jump in our partnership across different fields," Modi told a Buddhist conference in Colombo.
His comments came as Sri Lanka rebuffed a Chinese request to dock a submarine at one of its ports.
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