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Tuesday, October 08, 2013 - 05.18 GMT
Northern PC election will usher a new beginning - Khurshid

 

The successful culmination of elections to the Northern Province will usher a new beginning towards a better future for the people in the North," visiting External Affairs Minister of India, Salman Khurshid said.

Issuing a media statement following a meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister Khurshid said India is committed to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and ready to offer its assistance to take the process forward.

It is our hope that the vision and leadership that resulted in an end to armed conflict and holding of elections to the Northern Province, will now be employed to work for genuine reconciliation," Khurshid said.

"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."

The Indian Minister, who arrived in Colombo yesterday on a two-day official visit, held discussions with Minister Peiris last afternoon on all issues of bilateral, regional and international concern and reviewed the progress in various areas, including trade, investment, development cooperation, culture and education.

The two ministers have reviewed the progress made in implementation of the Indian assisted projects for IDPs, particularly the Housing Project, as well as projects relating to the development of railway infrastructure in the North and the South.

They also have discussed the fishermen's issue and agreed on the need to deal with it in a humane manner without resorting to violence under any circumstances.

The two ministers have agreed to encourage fishermen's associations on both sides, which had met in the past and reached some understandings, to meet again to work on resolving the issue.

Minister Khurshid said the India-funded development cooperation projects, including the housing and railway projects are progressing well and are expected to be completed on schedule.

India looks forward to an early resumption of the dialogue process to reach a political settlement in Sri Lanka based on the full implementation of 13th Amendment to the Constitution in a timely manner, the Indian Minister said.

"India has been consistent in calling for an early political settlement and national reconciliation through meaningful devolution of powers, so to ensure that all citizens of Sri Lanka, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, would lead a life marked by equality, justice, dignity and self-respect," he said.

The visiting Minister said he is hopeful that, through the MoU for implementation of the Trilingual Plan, India will be able to contribute to this important initiative to aid national reconciliation and promote harmony among the various linguistic communities in Sri Lanka.

Khurshid said he was pleased with the significant expansion of bilateral trade in goods which is aimed at reaching US$ 5 billion mark.

Noting India's significant contribution in the area of investments and tourist arrivals, Minister Khurshid pointed out the need to finalize a more comprehensive framework of economic cooperation to sustain the positive momentum in the bilateral trade and economic relations.

The visiting Minister is scheduled to meet the President Mahinda Rajapaksa today. He will also visit Jaffna to review India-funded development assistance projects and will meet the Governor and the Chief Minister of Northern Provincial Council.

Meanwhile, addressing media with Minister Peiris yesterday, the Indian Minister said "This is a moment to celebrate democracy and sovereignty of Sri Lanka, at the completion of the elections in Provinces, particularly in the Northern Province, where with the best traditions of democracy an election has been held now for the first time after a quarter of a century."

Asked to explain what he meant by "meaning of devolution of power" he said, "I am not a Sri Lankan government official, nor am I a constitutional expert."

"Whatever you do in a democracy, should come by way of consensus. Consensus should arrive at dialogue and dialogue is based on democratic practical consideration through exchange of views or opinions of representatives," he said.

"I hope that elected representatives in the North will work closely with the government and together they will arrive at an arrangement that empowers and gives a sense of participation and satisfaction to everybody. to me that is meaningful."

Media Statement issued by the Indian High Commission, Colombo

Hon'ble Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs,
Distinguished Representatives of the Media,

I am pleased to be in Sri Lanka, which we consider India’s closest neighbour, and with whom we share a relationship that goes back to the very beginning of recorded history in the subcontinent. At the outset, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Hon'ble Minister Prof. Peiris and the Sri Lankan Government for the warm hospitality extended to me and to my delegation.

This afternoon, I had excellent discussions with my host and friend Prof. G. L. Peiris on all issues of bilateral, regional and international concern. We had the opportunity to review progress in various areas, including trade, investment, development cooperation, culture and education.

We looked at the progress made in implementation of the Indian assisted projects for IDPs, particularly the Housing Project, as well as projects relating to the development of railway infrastructure in the North and the South. We also discussed the fishermen’s issue and agreed on the need to deal with it in a humane manner without resorting to violence under any circumstances. In this regard, we agreed to encourage fishermen’s associations on both sides, which had met in the past and reached some understandings, to meet again to work on developing this further.

I am happy to note that our development cooperation projects, including the housing and railway projects, are progressing well and are expected to be completed on schedule. As you are aware, our development assistance projects are entirely based on the priorities set by the government and the people of Sri Lanka. The main themes are connectivity, housing, health, education, livelihood restoration and economic revival.

Minister Peiris and I will be witnessing signing of agreements (8 agreements) relating to the Sampur Thermal Power Project and an MoU for Technical Assistance in support of the 10-year National Plan for a Trilingual Sri Lanka at the Presidential Secretariat soon after this media interaction. With the conclusion of the Sampur project related agreements today, we hope we will be able to commence work on the ground and pick up pace for completion by 2016, as agreed earlier. I am also hopeful that, through the MoU for implementation of the Trilingual Plan, we will be able to contribute to this important initiative, thereby aiding national reconciliation and promoting harmony between the various linguistic communities in Sri Lanka.

I am happy that our bilateral trade in goods has expanded significantly in recent years, to reach the USD 5 billion mark. I am also happy to note the significant contribution of India in the area of investments and tourist arrivals. To sustain this positive momentum in our trade and economic relations and take it to the next level, I feel it will be important to finalize a more comprehensive framework of economic cooperation.

I would be calling on His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa tomorrow morning. Later, I would be visiting Jaffna to review our development assistance projects. I will also be meeting the Governor and the Chief Minister of Northern Provincial Council.

We hope that successful culmination of elections to the Northern Province will usher a new beginning towards a better future for the people in the North. India has been consistent in calling for an early political settlement and national reconciliation through meaningful devolution of powers, so to ensure that all citizens of Sri Lanka, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, would lead a life marked by equality, justice, dignity and self-respect.

India is committed to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. It is our hope that the vision and leadership that resulted in an end to armed conflict and holding of elections to the Northern Province, will now be employed to work for genuine reconciliation. The Government of Sri Lanka has on many occasions conveyed to us and to the international community, its commitment to move towards a political settlement based on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment, and building on it. We look forward to an early resumption of the 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.

Friends, 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.

Thank you.

 



 

 
 
   
   
     
   
   

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