India and Sri Lanka on Wednesday decided to extend their ties to areas such as defence, space and energy security besides strengthening the existing bonds through restoration of transport links, setting up additional consulates and initiating cooperation in the power sector.
This was reflected in the seven pacts signed by the two sides and a joint declaration issued after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
New Delhi and Colombo decided to revive the joint commission mechanism, which will be headed by the two Foreign Ministers, and step up exchange of high-level defence officials. They agreed upon an extensive aid package for northern and eastern Sri Lanka that includes a project to construct 50,000 houses and restoration of the railway infrastructure, a port and an airport.
In the joint declaration, Mr. Rajapaksa expressed his resolve to continue implementing the relevant provisions of the Constitution to strengthen national amity and reconciliation through empowerment. He shared his ideas on conducting a broader dialogue with all parties involved. Dr. Singh expressed India's constructive support for efforts of building peace and reconciliation among all communities in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Rajapaksa reiterated his determination to evolve a political settlement acceptable to all communities. This would create the necessary conditions in which all Sri Lankans lived in an atmosphere of peace and respect for human rights.
Dr. Singh congratulated Mr. Rajapaksa on his recent electoral victories and conveyed that the recent elections, together with the cessation of hostilities in Sri Lanka, provided a historic opportunity to address all outstanding issues and to work towards genuine national reconciliation.
Mr. Rajapaksa expressed appreciation of India's assistance, including a grant of Rs. 500 crore for humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). He said the process of resettling the “limited number'' in the transit facilities would be further expedited.
Both leaders agreed on the urgent need for resettling the remaining IDPs.