|Tuesday, 21 October 2003|
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New, positive dimensions in Indo-Lanka ties
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's current visit to India, underscores afresh the qualitatively new phase in Indo-Lanka relations. While Lanka's traditional closeness to India stands re-emphasized too by this visit, it's clear that there is a certain freshness of approach to India in this close rapport which is being established with our giant neighbour by the Lankan Premier.
It could be said that there is a greater willingness on the part of the Lankan Government to take India into its confidence on matters which are at the heart of Lanka's well-being. This is not merely a question of acting on policy parameters which have regulated Indo-Lanka relations over the decades. There seems to be a spontaneous readiness on the part of the Lankan Government to share its crucial concerns with India and this deeper entrenching of the spirit of bilateral cooperation, differentiates the present phase in Indo-Lanka ties from those that preceded them.
Another conspicuous element in the Indo-Lanka relationship is the personal, proactive diplomacy of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. This too is a catalyst in the formation of cordial relations which has helped breathe new life into it.
We believe that these nuances in Indo-Lanka relations are crucially significant at the moment. If Indo-Lanka relations in the mid-Eighties in particular have taught us anything, it's the need to take India's concerns and sensitivities into consideration in the shaping of our security and defence policies. An inability on the part of then governments to abide by these considerations brought about a qualitative decline in our ties with India.
Although our relations have been on the mend over the years, a greater degree of understanding and cordiality needs to be built into the Indo-Lanka relationship at this juncture when important initiatives are being taken by the Lankan Government to resolve this country's conflict.
The Lankan Premier's personal diplomacy will help greatly in this bridge-strengthening exercise.
It is all too clear that Indian policy in regard to Lanka's conflict has hardly changed over the years. India has right along stood for a just political solution to the problem which would take into consideration the interests of all our communities and also safeguard our territorial integrity and unity. These parameters were underscored by Indian External Affairs Minister Yashvant Sinha, while in Colombo last week.
Given India's geographical location and her status in the region, it stands to reason that Lanka should work in cooperation with India and that the latter should be sensitive to our needs. In other words, the relationship should be continuously based on mutual good-will and respect.
Our current approach to India gives every hope of our achieving these objectives besides promoting economic and defence cooperation. Ties in the defence field in particular would ensure that the two countries wouldn't be at cross-purposes in the pursuit of security interests.
Such ties would also see an end to opposition-concocted security scares which have been aimed at undermining Indo-Lanka relations.
Produced by Lake House