Indian National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon met President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday.
Menon who arrived on Thursday night is accompanied by the Joint Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla. At President’s meeting External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris was also present.
During his stay Menon also met Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa as well as TNA leader R. Sampanthan.
Prior to leaving back to India, during a press conference, Menon said, “My visit to Sri Lanka has been in the context of regular consultations and exchange of views between the Government of India and the Government of Sri Lanka.”
“I discussed recent developments, bilateral relations and areas of common concern. I was also briefed about steps being taken by the Government of Sri Lanka on political reconciliation and settlement. While this is a Sri Lankan issue and something that Sri Lanka has to do, we will continue to remain engaged with all concerned and offer any support required in this regard,” Menon added.
He said India has always stood for a united Sri Lanka within which all citizens can live in equality, justice, dignity and self-respect. “We have worked closely with the Government of Sri Lanka on relief, rehabilitation and resettlement of IDPs. India’s assistance was appreciated by the Sri Lankan leadership in all my meetings. We remain committed to continue our cooperation,” he said.
“We also discussed the fishermen’s issue. It was noted that the practical arrangements of October 2008 should be adhered to until an alternative mechanism was agreed upon. We agreed that fishermen’s associations on both sides, which had met in the past and reached some understandings, needed to meet again to work on developing this further. This could then serve as the basis for finding a solution to this humanitarian issue,” Menon said.
On the bilateral front, he said it was noted that most of the Indian-assisted projects were proceeding well and several projects, particularly those relating to the development of railway infrastructure in the Northern and Southern Provinces, were being implemented well ahead of schedule.
In the past two years, India has committed US$ 750 million under lines of credit and another US$ 350 million under grants-in-aid. There are a number of other new projects under consideration.
“We also discussed maritime cooperation and other security related issues. It was agreed that we could take this further,” Menon said.
“Sri Lanka is our close neighbour, with whom we enjoy a multifaceted and dynamic relationship. We look forward to strengthening and further developing this engagement,” Menon added.