“Sri Lanka has made a remarkable transformation since the end of the conflict,” President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson told President Mahinda Rajapaksa during a conversation yesterday. “More time is needed to address remaining issues. Setting time frames does not yield results.”
The President of Iceland made these comments during a bilateral discussion that took place this afternoon at the Emirates Palace Hotel with President Rajapaksa who was in Abu Dhabi for a one-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). President Grímsson, recalling his two previous meetings with President Rajapaksa, said he is pleased to meet the Sri Lanka President again.
“My thinking is that we should enhance relations between the two countries,” the Icelandic President said while proposing to initiate projects on a commercial basis in the fields of fishing, meat processing and fruit production. These products have good markets in 50 to 60 countries, he pointed out. Iceland is now equipped with the latest technologies in these sectors, enabling the country to preserve fish, meat and fruit, he further said.
President Rajapaksa, while acknowledging President Grímsson’s proposal to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries, apprised the Iceland President of the progress made by Sri Lanka since the end of the war four years ago.
“Demining has been completed,” President Rajapaksa said. “We have resettled around 300,000 internally displaced persons. Around 11,000 former combatants have been reintegrated back into the society following rehabilitation. We also have handed over around 2,000 child soldiers to their parents.”
Major infrastructure development is taking place in the areas of road development, the healthcare sector, water supply systems, electricity generation and the education sector, President Rajapaksa further said. People in the North were given the opportunity to elect their own representatives through Provincial Council elections. However, certain elements who fail to see the reality is exerting unfair pressure on Sri Lanka, the President said. “We can overcome challenges. But external pressure is a hurdle,” President Rajapaksa added.
Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Sajin de Vass Gunawardena also participated in the discussion.