Sri Lanka urged to accommodate Tamils' aspirations

“It is our hope that the vision and leadership that resulted in an end to armed conflict will now be employed in the quest for a genuine political settlement resulting in national reconciliation among all the communities of Sri Lanka,” Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha said in his Independence Day message at India House here.

Clearly calling upon the Sri Lankan leadership to accommodate the aspirations of the Tamils of the Northern Province, he pointed out that the key to the Indian unity is “its continuing commitment to democracy, pluralism and diversity of religion, language, race, ethnicity and culture.” India would continue to support Sri Lanka's commitment to heal the wounds of the past and to build a caring society which ensures a life of equality and dignity to all its citizens.

Mr. Kantha's comments come at a time when the reconciliation talks between the Tamil National Alliance and the government are deadlocked over TNA's ultimatum to the government.

The TNA has accused the government of keeping the talks going merely to show the international community that it was engaging with the Tamils.

Interlinked destinies

Making it clear that India has always been committed to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and to the restoration of lasting peace through reconciliation, he said the Indo-Lankan partnership must progress in the spirit of being the closest of neighbours and friends whose destinies are interlinked.

In terms of trade, India was Sri Lanka's largest partner and also emerged as the number one source country in terms of foreign tourist arrivals and foreign direct investment.

“The growing engagement with India has facilitated creation of new capacities in the Sri Lankan economy in diverse sectors ranging from civil aviation and hospitality to ports and dockyards. A good example of this partnership is the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement which has yielded positive dividends over the past decade. Discussions on a comprehensive framework for enhanced economic cooperation are now under way and I do hope that the coming months will see the fruition of these efforts to the mutual benefit of both our countries,” he said, pointing to the headway made on the CEPA between the two countries.