India,Lanka Virtual Summit highly successful - Keheliya | Daily News

India,Lanka Virtual Summit highly successful - Keheliya

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella addressing a media briefing at the Government Information Department yesterday (28) said that news reports tying up the $15 million grant to the implementation of the 13th Amendment is completely false and the two leaders had not reached any such agreement on this matter.  Yesterday’s media briefing was held in order to further clarify details regarding the Virtual Summit held on September 26th between Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in which they discussed bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual concern.

Minister Rambukwella noted that the discussions between the two leaders were highly successful, adding that they had discussed a broad spectrum of issues relating to the two countries including COVID-19 and measures to control it, development cooperation, economic vision, trade investment, security measures, Indian Ocean security and the fishing issues.

The Prime Ministers of the two countries also discussed education and human resources, peace and accountability and agreed to work on fisheries issues without compromising the friendship between the two countries.

He also emphasized that there was no connection between the relief and financial assistance provided and the amendment to the Constitution.

Clarifying on the essence of the discussions between the two leaders, Rambukwella said that Prime Minister Modi called on the government of Sri Lanka to redress the aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka including by carrying forward the process of reconciliation with the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

He said Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed confidence that that Sri Lanka will work towards realizing the expectations of all the people including Tamils by achieving reconciliation nurtured as per the mandate of the people of Sri Lanka and implementation of the constitution as per the provisions.

During the Summit that lasted about one hour, the two leaders reviewed the entire range of bilateral matters and exchanged views on regional and international issues of common concern.

Rambukwella said, “There were certain media reports tying up the $15 million that was agreed upon by the two Prime Ministers as a grant to Sri Lanka was attached to the 13th Amendment and the issues of the 13th Amendment, which is completely false. The $15 million was a grant for fostering Buddhist Philosophy and the cultural activities of Sri Lanka and had nothing to do with the 13th Amendment.”

There were also certain economic issues that were discussed during the discussions between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Rajapaksa. Commenting on the outcome of these discussions, State Minister of Finance Ajith Nivad Cabraal said, “The part with regard to the economic affairs was that we brought to the notice of the Indian Prime Minister that there is a difference in the trade balance and that that should be addressed at some stage. He did mention about the soft arrangement that the Indian authorities had granted the Sri Lankan authorities and that was also acknowledged. But, going forward we are looking at ways and means in which the trade balance could also be addressed.”

He said that Sri Lanka imports a much bigger share than what is exported. He noted that India had granted a swap arrangement to Sri Lanka of $400 million, adding that this issue would be discussed more broadly in the near future.

Both leaders acknowledged the increasing convergence on regional and international issues of mutual engagement, including within the frameworks of SAARC, BIMSTEC, IORA and the United Nations system.

Meanwhile, addressing reporters at a special media conference held in Colombo yesterday, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda said that the Government is for the implementation of the 13th Amendment as it is in the Constitution.

He said Sri Lanka has sought talks with Tamil Nadu on the fishermen issue. Devananda said that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had discussed the fishing issue and produced satellite images of the clusters of Indian fishing trawlers encroaching on Sri Lankan waters during the virtual summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Minister Rambukwella also stated that while the two leaders had discussed a variety of issues on joint cooperation, nothing specific was discussed in detail during the meeting.