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Updated: June 10, 2010 02:14 IST

Will strive for settlement acceptable to all: Rajapaksa

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BIG PUSH TO TIES:Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday. Photo: V.V. Krishnan
BIG PUSH TO TIES:Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

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.

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Rajapaksa holds the reins of a $40 billion economy that has enjoyed a partial peace dividend, and is on the path to recovery with big Chinese and Indian investments into infrastructure and plans to put $4 billion into development.

For the nation wounded by decades of war and connected impasse in the development of local industry, business and agriculture , the new government have to heal the same by building a national identity and reconnecting the former warzone areas to the rest of the country.

Probably the Sri Lankan government has to rebuild the very basic infrastructure viz. power connections, roads, bridges, telephones etc. in the majority affected areas and international donors may be willing to contribute for the same. India can help Sri Lanka by giving assistance in our know-how on installation of telecommunication lines, construction of roads and bridges etc. Sri Lanka can seek help from Indian Railways not only for reopening of bunged railway lines in Sri Lanka but also for creation of a railway network linking small towns especially in north and east with the capital Colombo.

Development of local industry, business and agriculture are what Rajapaksa says will be the key to healing Sri Lanka's divisions, by building a national identity and reconnecting the formerly Tiger-held areas to the rest of the country.

The Sri Lankan Government should apply caution and not to over-celebrate the war victory or election victory solely to enable the nation to have a transition from the very of devastation.
India and Sri Lanka together will form a big Trade-Power in the region and can jointly formulate policies for safe-guarding the interests of both countries. Both countries are having almost a uniform export basket and thus can even jointly formulate export strategies for value addition by mutual import of ingredients of high-quality of tea and plantation produce for further export to Europe and U.S market under the global trade regime and ensure that highest value in foreign-exchange are earned.

from:  Prof.Madan Menon Thottasseri
Posted on: Jun 10, 2010 at 08:15 IST
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