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Remarks by External Affairs Minister on Sri Lanka developments
January 27, 2009
I had detailed, useful and productive discussions with H.E. President Rajapaksa and am pleased with the comprehensive briefing by the Sri Lankan side. We covered recent developments in Sri Lanka, the entire gamut of India-Sri Lanka relations and regional issues of mutual interest. India-Sri Lanka relations are developing strongly. It is particularly important at this time of transition and change that we should continue to strengthen our ties.
The President mentioned his hopes for future developments in Sri Lanka. I stressed that military victories offer a political opportunity to restore life to normalcy in the Northern Province and throughout Sri Lanka, after twenty three years of conflict. The President assured me that this was his intent. We will work together with the Government of Sri Lanka to enable all Sri Lankans, and particularly the Tamil community who have borne the brunt of the effects of the conflict, to lead normal lives as soon as possible.
For our part, I expressed our readiness to participate in the reconstruction of northern Sri Lanka so as to overcome the ravages of war and also to lay the economic and political foundations of a strong peace in which all communities feel comfortable. We will be working together on a reconstruction plan for these areas which will involve infrastructure and other support. I was happy to be informed of progress towards the establishment of a 500 MW thermal power project near Trincomalee by NTPC from India.
H.E. President Rajapaksa assured me that it was his intention to move as quickly as possible to implement the 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan Constitution, which, you would recall, followed the India-Sri Lanka agreement of 1987. In fact, he would explore the possibility of going further and improving upon those devolution proposals.
We also reviewed the humanitarian situation as a result of the conflict. The Sri Lankan Government has reassured that they would respect the safe zones and minimize the effects of conflict on Tamil civilians. As you know, India has extended its relief supplies to civilians caught up in the zone of conflict and intends to continue doing so.
After our conversation H.E. President Rajapaksa was good enough to extend a personal invitation to an all-party delegation from Tamil Nadu led by Chief Minister Karunanidhi and Ms. Jayalalitha to see for themselves the situation on the ground and to persuade the LTTE to lay down arms and join the democratic mainstream.
An early restoration of normal democratic life in the areas affected by the conflict would be a major contribution to peace and stability. India will do all that it can bring this about, working with all those who work for this goal with us.
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