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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assured us he represents all Sri Lankans: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. File

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. File   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

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External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday that the discussions during Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s visit would demonstrate where his assurance that he represented all Sri Lankans holds.

He was responding to MDMK member Vaiko’s allegation that Mr. Rajapaksa, the former Defence Secretary, was “responsible for the genocide of Tamils”. Mr. Vaiko raised concerns about Mr. Jaishankar’s recent visit to Colombo.

“I had visited Sri Lanka a day after he was sworn in as President. We discussed our bilateral relationship briefly. The President assured us that he is today the President of all Sri Lankans. We need to look at that assurance and obviously whatever discussions happen during his visit would demonstrate where that assurance holds,” he said.

Responding to questions about the government’s decision not to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, Mr. Jaishankar said negotiations were on till the RCEP leadership summit in Bangkok earlier this month, but the Prime Minister decided against signing the deal as India’s concerns had not been adequately addressed. In the future, he said, a decision would be made if the concerns were addressed.

He said there was “no in-principle opposition to or acceptance” of free trade agreements and each agreement should be judged on what India would gain or lose from it.

“We signed a lot of FTAs. We are today studying what has been the impact of those FTAs on our economy and its a very mixed picture. We have urged the partner countries of those FTAs to do reviews,” he said, adding that the ASEAN FTA was being reviewed and Japan had been “urged” to look at the FTA with it.

He said the government was “open to reopening negotiations” on the bilateral FTA with the European Union.

He said the government had re-emphasised its “neighbourhood first” policy in its six months after re-election.

In response to a question about the relationship with Nepal, Mr. Jaishankar said, “Whatever misunderstanding was there with Nepal is behind us.”

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 9:54:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/president-gotabaya-rajapaksa-assured-us-he-represents-all-sri-lankans-jaishankar/article30109561.ece

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