Iranian president arrives in Sri Lanka to strengthen ties, inaugurate hydropower project

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Sri Lanka on Wednesday for a brief state visit aimed at strengthening ties, during which he will open a $514 million hydropower project.

This marks the first visit by an Iranian president to Sri Lanka since April 2008, when then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited.

The countries are expected to sign five memorandums of understanding.

The hydropower project, agreed upon in 2010, faced funding challenges after an initial $50 million was released. U.S. sanctions imposed later that year on Iran complicated financial transactions, prompting Sri Lanka to fund the remainder.

The project also experienced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental concerns, and protests from villagers.

Once completed, the project will contribute 290 gigawatt-hours to the national grid and provide irrigation for 6,000 hectares (about 15,000 acres) of farmland, as well as drinking water to thousands of families across three districts, according to a statement from the Sri Lankan president’s office.

“The ceremony, chaired by the presidents of Iran and Sri Lanka, will symbolize the cooperation between the two nations in this significant infrastructure endeavor,” the statement noted.