President Gotabaya Rajapaksa listens to Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla during their meeting yesterday. Secretary to President Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Special Advisor Lalith Weeratunga and India's High Commissioner Gopal Baglay are also present
- In a meeting with visiting Foreign Secy., suggests rebuilding bilateral relationship to one similar to that in 60s and 70s
- Says SL's position needs India’s support, extends open invitation for Indian investors
- Allays India’s fears over growing Lankan ties with China, assures no threat to India’s security
- Points to Indian Ocean region as a zone of peace
- Conveys invitation to Indian PM Modi to make a State visit to SL
- Reminds people in both countries should be made aware of bilateral decisions
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday appeared upbeat on stronger ties with India, extending an open invitation to investors saying the island nation needs the neighbouring giant’s help.
Optimistic views on strengthening bilateral relations with new perspectives and measures were shared by the President when the visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla called on him before ending his three-day discourse in Sri Lanka.
The President said that the people in the two countries should be properly apprised regarding the decisions taken by the two countries in reaching an agreement. The President emphasised the need to act with the consent of the majority of the people by explaining the advantages and disadvantages.
According to his media division, the President elaborated on the need to re-establish the friendship and relations between India and Sri Lanka that existed in the 1960s and 70s. President Rajapaksa said that he was expecting to obtain India's support in advancing the 1971 proposal made by Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike to declare the Indian Ocean a peace zone. Both sides were of the view that short and long-term steps that should be taken to bring relations between the two countries to a higher level should be correctly identified.
President Rajapaksa pointed out that the long-standing problems faced by the fishermen of the two countries could be resolved by identifying immediate solutions to the existing problems and providing the benefits rightfully owed to the fishing community. Explaining the trade imbalances between the two countries, the President stressed the need of providing speedy solutions in this regard.
Recalling his experiences in liberating the Jaffna Fort, the President said that he was well aware about the consequences of a war, including the missing persons, as well as regarding the widowhood caused by the war.
The President pointed out the urgent need to understand the weaknesses as well as the strengths of the 13th Amendment and act accordingly. President Rajapaksa told Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla that he wished to create a conducive environment for the Tamils who left Sri Lanka to return to the country, and that he had at the UN General Assembly openly invited the Tamil Diaspora and Tamils living abroad to contribute their support in making the Government's efforts in this regard a success.
Explaining the steps taken by his Government for the development of the North and East in the recent past, the President said that more than 90% of the lands acquired during the war for security purposes have now been released. Adding that the families of the missing persons are being compensated, the President explained the need to expedite the resolution of other issues that had arisen during the war.
Rajapaksa emphasised that Sri Lanka would not be allowed to be used for any activity that could pose a threat to India's security, since there was a clear understanding about the geographical location of the two countries.
The President explained Sri Lanka’s relationship with China in a comprehensive manner and informed the Indian Foreign Secretary not to have any doubts about it.
He noted that a comprehensive environment has been created for investment opportunities in Sri Lanka. The President said that Indian investors would also be openly invited to invest. The President said that the Minister-in-charge of the subject has been entrusted with the task of resolving the situation regarding the Trincomalee oil tanks in a manner that is beneficial to both countries.
The promotion of the tourism industry between the two countries was also discussed at length. Attention was also drawn to further expand the training opportunities available for the Sri Lankan Armed Forces personnel in India.
Attention was also paid on sharing electricity between the two countries after identifying the peak hours in the use of electricity.
The Indian Foreign Secretary commended Sri Lanka on the success of its COVID vaccination program and praised the measures taken to control the spread of COVID-19. Welcoming the President's in-depth explanation, the Foreign Secretary said that the friendship between the two countries could be further strengthened since the two countries share similar views.
The President also informed the Foreign Secretary of his wish to extend an invitation to the Indian Prime Minister to undertake a state visit to Sri Lanka.
Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage were also present.