We believe that continuation of the dialogue between the Government and the TNA would pave the way for political settlement, including under the rubric of the Parliamentary Select Committee, India's External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna said.
It is our hope that the vision and leadership that resulted in an end to armed conflict will now be employed in the quest for a genuine political reconciliation, the Indian Minister said addressing a press conference after his meeting with External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday in Colombo.
While reiterating India's is commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, Minister Krishna said India is looking forward to progress in the ongoing dialogue process, in order to address this issue in a timely manner. We will continue to work with the Government of Sri Lanka, and help in whatever way we can, to take this process forward, in a spirit of partnership and cooperation.
He said India has noted the many constructive recommendations contained in the recently-released report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
"These recommendations, when implemented, would mark a major step forward in the process of genuine national reconciliation, to which the Sri Lankan government is committed. Sri Lanka must seize this opportunity," Indian External Affairs Minister said.
The Indian Minister, who arrived in Sri Lanka Monday on a four-day official visit met the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa earlier on Tuesday and exchanged views on ways to take the bilateral relationship between the two countries forward.
With his Sri Lankan counterpart Prof. G. L. Peiris, Krishna has reviewed the progress in various areas of interest, including trade, services and investment, development cooperation, science and technology, culture and education and expressed satisfaction that the projects under India's development partnership have progressed well since his last visit.
Our development assistance projects are entirely based on the priorities set by the government and the people of Sri Lanka, he said.
Minister Krishna discussing the trade between the two countries observed that bilateral trade in goods would touch the US$ 5 billion mark.
Noting that India is a leading player in Sri Lanka, as far as investments and tourist arrivals are concerned, the Indian Minister pointed out the need to finalize a more comprehensive framework of economic cooperation to sustain the positive momentum in the trade and economic relations and take it to the next level.
Speaking of the fishermen issue, Minister Krishna said the matter needs to be handled with care on both sides since it is a sensitive issue.
He stressed that there must be no use of force against the fishermen and that they must be treated in a humane manner and expressed satisfaction that the Joint Working Group on Fisheries which met recently in Colombo, was able to look at various options to address the nagging issue.
The Minister will visit Jaffna today to hand over the first lot of the houses that were built under the Pilot Project for construction of the first 1000 houses, to the beneficiaries.
The Indian External Affairs Minister will also be visiting Kilinochchi to handover medical equipment to the District General Hospital.
India and Sri Lanka are bound by ties of history, geography and culture. Our partnership must therefore progress in the spirit of being the closest of neighbours and friends, whose destinies are intertwined, the Minister concluded.