The Huddle 2019: Day 1

Rajapaksa underlines need to sustain Delhi-Colombo ties

Mahinda Rajapaksa and N. Ram at The Huddle 2019 in Bengaluru on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

Sri Lanka’s Leader of the Opposition and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa made an impassioned plea for Colombo and Delhi to ensure that their relations did not fall victim to a change in government in either capital.

Addressing the third edition of The Hindu’s Huddle conclave here, Mr. Rajapkasa made repeated references to the efficacy of the “troika” mechanism of senior officials used by the two countries during his presidency. Admitting that the bilateral journey of the two countries had not always been smooth, he pointed to the 1980s and 2014 as the most troubled of times between India and Sri Lanka.


“We must evolve a mechanism to ensure that misunderstandings don’t take place,” Mr. Rajapaksa said in his inaugural lecture at the two-day thought conclave.

Mr. Rajapaksa, whose government presided over the demise of the LTTE and its once all-powerful leader Velupillai Prabakaran, said Sri Lanka and India must ensure that their territories were not used by groups inimical to the interests of either country.

Calling for strong people-to-people relations, he said the civil services of the two countries — not just the Foreign Ministries — must have institutional mechanisms to foster better bilateral ties.

‘Tamils first to oppose IPKF’

Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday said it was the Tamil community in the island nation that had first opposed the Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) when the latter was invited in 1987 to end the ethnic conflict. Later, the majority Sinhala and Muslim community also opposed the presence of Indian troops on the island, Mr Rajapaska said.

The Sri Lanka Leader of the Opposition was responding to questions after his inaugural address at the third edition of The Hindu’s Huddle in Bengaluru on Staurday.

“After they [the IPKF] left, the [Tamil] issue was internationalised. It should have been settled between us,” the senior Sri Lankan leader said.

Asked by Chairman of The Hindu Group N. Ram, about the current concerns of the Tamil community relating to devolution of powers, Mr. Rajapaksa responded, “People can be satisfied, not the politicians.”

Responding to another question from Mr. Ram, who presided over the session, Mr. Rajapaksa said unfortunately he could not contest the forthcoming president elections in Sri Lanka, but was looking for a “good candidate” to do so.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 3:09:27 AM |

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