India, Lanka prosperity closely linked - Manmohan Singh
COLOMBO: One cannot envisage a prosperous India without strong links
with her neighbours, and the present SAARC Summit in Colombo provided an
opportunity for such a partnership, said Indian Prime Minister Dr.
Manmohan Singh, in discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the
Presidential Secretariat yesterday.
The talks between the two leaders took place as part of the 15th
SAARC Summit. Prior to the bilateral discussions, the Indian Prime
Minister and President Rajapaksa had a one-to-one discussion.
Prime Minister Singh who congratulated the Sri Lanka Government for
the excellent arrangements for the SAARC Summit, referred to the highest
importance that India gave to her relations with Sri Lanka.
He said the two countries had centuries old ties, and that the
prosperity of the two nations was closely linked.
He observed that the discussions at the SAARC under President
Rajapaksa’s leadership would acquire historic significance.
President Rajapaksa reciprocated the warm sentiments expressed by the
Indian leader, and said Sri Lanka valued the economic benefits that Sri
Lanka is deriving from the investments and industrial engagement of
He also thanked the Indian Government for the development cooperation
to Sri Lanka, including the rehabilitation of the tsunami affected
Southern Railway, for which a Memorandum of Understanding is due to be
President Rajapaksa briefed the Indian Prime Minister about the
positive developments in the Eastern Province in the last one year, such
as the holding of the local government polls, the first Provincial
Council polls with the reward electoral success going to a political
leader from the principal minority in the country, and the launching of
an important development programme, to be implemented in two years, and
costing US$ 2 billion.
President Rajapaksa also reaffirmed the commitment of his
administration to implement comprehensively the provisions of the 13th
Amendment to the Constitution in the Eastern Province, and said parallel
to this process, the APRC is expected to submit recommendations to forge
a further political consensus of solution to the current crisis.
The President also pointed out that the security operations in the
North were progressing successfully with the guiding principle to the
Security Forces to exercise utmost caution against casualties among
The two leaders also discussed fisheries incidents in the northern
waters off Sri Lanka, particularly the Palk Strait, and President
Rajapaksa reiterated the long standing policy of the Sri Lankan Navy to
treat fishermen apprehended in Sri Lankan waters in a humanitarian
The Indian authorities were urged to continue to discourage Indian
fishermen from crossing the International Line of Demarcation, as their
presence is used by the LTTE as a cover for its activities.
In discussions on economic cooperation between the two countries, the
benefits of investment in Sri Lanka by Indian entrepreneurs was
The Sri Lankan delegation comprised Foreign Minister Rohitha
Bogollagama, Minister of Export and International Trade Prof. G. L.
Peiris Minister of Science and Technology Prof. Tissa Vitharana,
Minister of Transport Dullas Alahapperuma Secretary to the President
Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Treasury Dr. P. B. Jayasundara,
Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa,
High Commissioner to India Romesh Jayasinghe, Chief of Staff Gamini
Senarath, Additional Secretary to the Foreign Ministry Prasad
Kariyawasam and Coordinating Secretary to the President Sajin Vas
The Indian delegation headed by the Prime Minister comprised Foreign
Minister Pranab Mukherjee, National Security Adviser M. M. K. Narayanan,
Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, Indian High Commissioner in Sri
Lanka Alok Prasad, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister T. K. A.
Nair, Joint Secretary (External Publicity) Navjet Sarna, Joint
Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office Pankaj Sarna, Joint Secretary, BSM T.
S. Tirumurtland Director Prime Minister’s Office Rudrandra Tandon.