New Delhi: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa will visit India later this month, primarily to lay the foundation stone of a Centre for Buddhist Studies in Madhya Pradesh's Sanchi, home to some of the vital and finest Buddhist monuments.

Rajapaksa will do the honours on September 21 in the presence of Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonpo Jigme Thinley, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj announced.

The event coincides with the celebrations to mark 2600 years of Buddha's enlightenment.

Swaraj, the MP from Vidisha under which Sanchi falls, said the Centre will come up at an area of 100 acres in Sanchi and would serve as a place of learning for all Buddhist monks from across the world.

Unveiling a painting that depicts the journey of Buddhism from India to Sri Lanka by the daughter of Emperor Ashoka Sangamitra at the Sri Lankan High Commission here, Swaraj said Rajapaksa and Thinley have given their consent for participation in the programmee.

Sources said Rajapaksa is likely to travel to New Delhi during the visit to hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders. Though details of the visit have not been worked out yet, the sources said Rajapaksa's visit to the national capital is almost certain.

Swaraj used the opportunity to nudge the Sri Lankan Government to "grab the opportunity" to win the hearts and minds of minority Tamils by addressing their genuine grievances in the form of a political solution.

Talking about her visit to Sri Lanka in April as the head of a parliamentary delegation, Swaraj said the panel returned as a "very, very satisfied lot" though they had gone to the country with "skepticism and apprehension."

"The TNA leaders told us that they want a solution within an undivided Sri Lanka. I told the President that he has to grab the opportunity and win the minds of Tamil brothers and sisters," she said.

Underlining that Buddhism is a "common thread" between India and Sri Lanka, she said the institute would go a long way in promoting Buddhism.

Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Prasad Kariyawasam said it was fitting that Swaraj unveiled the painting as she represents Vidisha under which Sanchi falls.

"Your Parliamentary constituency, Vidisha, where Sanchi is located, was home to Emperor Ashoka's children Arhat Mahinda and Their Sanghamitra, thousands of years ago," he told Swaraj.

(Agencies)

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