President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott met on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013 last evening (Nov. 16) at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Centre (SBMEC).
“I also want to thank you for the corporation Sri Lanka showed to Australia on people smuggling issues.” said Prime Minister Abbott.
The Prime Minister appreciated the progress that has taken place at the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka.
President Rajapaksa, elaborating on the rehabilitation and reconciliation processes, said that more than 14,000 cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who admitted to have received training as suicide bombers have been rehabilitated and integrated back into the society within a very short period even though there was a risk in doing so. The Government also took measures to unite the child soldiers with their parents in months after the war ended, the President added.
“War has ended; Peace and prosperity are great things to have,” Prime Minister Abbott told the President.
Describing the growth taking place in Jaffna, President said that while the country as a whole has seen seven to eight percent growth, the North has seen 22 percent growth. President Rajapaksa said that even though some parts of the country were neglected by focusing on the North, it had to be done to bring that part of the country on par with other areas since the LTTE prevented any development from taking place in that region for the past thirty years.
“We should be very slow to judge," Prime Minister Abbott said.
Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Peiris explained the work done by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), and the action plan derived for the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission.
Secretary the President, Mr. Lalith Weeratunga described the process involved in providing employment to young graduates of the Northern Province as way of providing more opportunities for the youth.
Several other dignitaries from Australia accompanied Prime Minister Abbott.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Secretary to the President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga and Secretary of the Minister of External Affairs Mr. Karunatilake Amunugama accompanied President Rajapaksa.