Rajapakse concludes visit to India
[TamilNet, Friday, 30 December 2005, 10:29 GMT]
The Prime Minister of India and the President of Sri Lanka reached bilateral understanding on identifying joint ventures, amongst others, for the development of the eastern port city of Trincomalee, and its surrounding region, according to the Joint Statement. Both countries are to prepare a Master Plan for realizing the project, the statement said. The statement stressed the importance of a negotiated settlement between the parties to the conflict through the internal processes that promote consensus and reconciliation, and said both sides emphasized the need for the strict observance of the ceasefire and immediate resumption of talks aimed at strengthening the ceasefire.
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT
STATE VISIT OF H.E. MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA, PRESIDENT OF SRI LANKA TO INDIA, DECEMBER 27-30, 2005.
- His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka and Madam Shiranthi Rajapaksa paid a State Visit to India from December 27-30, 2005, at the invitation of the President of India, His Excellency Dr A.P.J.Abdul Kalam. The President of Sri Lanka was accompanied by Mr. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. A.H.M. Fowzie, Minister of Railways, Transport and Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Development, Mr. Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Minister of Trade, Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Marketing Development, Mrs. Ferial Ashraff, Minister of Housing and Construction, Mr. R. Bogollagama, Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion, Ministers, leaders of political parties and senior officials.
- President Rajapaksa held wide-ranging discussions with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and Shipping Minister T.R.Baalu, and other dignitaries.
- Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, UPA, called on President Rajapaksa.
- The President also met with several senior personalities from other political parties during his stay in New Delhi.
- It was noted with satisfaction that Indo-Lanka bilateral relations have continued to be in a state of excellence characterized by political consensus in both countries, understanding, friendship, cooperation and mutual respect and benefit. The two sides reaffirmed their resolve to further consolidate and build on this strong and dynamic relationship.
- The discussions on international issues reflected the long-standing consonance of views between the two friendly nations. Both sides remain resolutely committed to opposing terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, while reiterating that terrorism can never be justified, either on political, or on religious, or on ideological grounds. The two sides agreed that the current global challenges require the reinvigoration of multilateralism, including through the strengthening of the UN system. In this context, Sri Lanka reiterated her position that the UN Security Council reform process should facilitate India’s legitimate claim for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and reaffirmed her support for the candidature of India as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
- India and Sri Lanka emphasized their commitment to work for the full realisation of the objectives identified by the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka last November. They were of the view that the South Asian Free Trade Agreement once operationalised should pave the way for the SAARC nations to move towards even closer economic cooperation, with the eventual goal being that of an economic union encompassing the entire region.
- The Prime Minister of India and the President of Sri Lanka expressed satisfaction at the dynamism of the bilateral economic relationship. They noted the good progress by the two governments in building on the success of the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement by negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). They expressed their confidence that the finalisation of CEPA, on the basis of mutual benefit for both sides, would further unleash the inherent synergies between the two countries.
- It was noted that India has made an initial allocation of a Credit Line of US$ 100 million for the integrated development of the Colombo – Matara rail network. It was agreed at the request of the Sri Lanka side, that India would take this process forward by the extension of concessionary terms to be mutually agreed upon, for the allocated credit of US$ 100 million, and for any additional credit to be made available for the said project. A multi-disciplinary delegation from India has already visited Sri Lanka. A delegation of officials from Sri Lanka representing the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Railways, will visit India in turn to discuss and agree on the technical and engineering aspects of the project, and the terms and conditions of the Credit Line.
- The two leaders welcomed the bilateral understandings being reached on identifying joint ventures for the development of the eastern Sri Lankan port city of Trincomalee, and its surrounding region. They noted the need to prepare a Master Plan for realizing, including through the building up of the necessary infrastructural support, the full economic potential held out by Trincomalee and its environs. It was agreed in this context that a coal based power project of capacity 2x250 MW will be set up in the Trincomalee region of Sri Lanka, as a joint venture between the National Thermal Power Company Ltd, a Government of India enterprise and the Ceylon Electricity Board, a Government of Sri Lanka entity. The Government of Sri Lanka will have the responsibility of facilitating and extending all necessary help in setting up this project. A detailed Memorandum of Understanding for setting up the Power Project is to be signed separately.
- The Indian side in recognition of the high priority accorded by the President of Sri Lanka to reconstruction and development in the North and East, offered to support these efforts through technical and financial assistance. The Sri Lanka side welcomed this offer of assistance and agreed to facilitate the related initiatives. The Indian side also announced assistance in constructing a library and a stadium in Jaffna.
- The two sides agreed that there was great potential for cooperation in the areas of agriculture, IT and renewable energy. Both sides discussed collaboration in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) area, which would include, inter alia, institutional capacity building, training and skills development and technical assistance. In this regard, India and Sri Lanka will collaborate to set up an ICT Park in Sri Lanka.
- The two sides reiterated their desire to accelerate their co-operation in the field of human resource development, and in the fashioning of educational policies appropriate for developing within the national workforces, the skills and capacities required by the 21st Century. Towards this end, it was agreed that the Joint Working Group under the India-Sri Lanka MOU on the Education Exchange Programme would be operationalized at the earliest possible. Several measures funded by India to enhance cooperation in the field of education and training were also agreed upon. These include the Mahatma Gandhi scholarship scheme for 100 deserving Sri Lankan students every year, the upgradation of libraries and science laboratories in the Upcountry areas, the setting up of a Chair in Contemporary Indian studies in Peradeniya University and commissioning of a field study on vocational training centers.
- It was noted that the training of 450 Sri Lankan Policemen has already commenced in different institutions in India.
- Sri Lanka welcomed the donation of medical equipment as Tsunami relief to the affected hospitals of Point Pedro and of Hambantota. The Indian side announced that it had initiated action to prepare a Detailed Project Report on the rehabilitation of the tsunami-damaged Base Hospital in Trincomalee. The Indian side also indicated that construction of the new 150-bed Hospital at Dickoya in the Central Province is expected to commence shortly. The Government of India further announced that it would provide equipment to set up a fully-equipped Obstetrics and Gynaecology unit in the existing hospital at Dickoya.
- Sri Lanka expressed her appreciation for the valuable contribution by the Indian Cultural Centre in Colombo, towards continuing a level of cultural interaction worthy of the longstanding historical and civilizational links between the two nations. President Rajapaksa declared the intent of his administration to present in India during the course of next year, the rich and varied cultural heritage of Sri Lanka via a series of exhibitions and events. The Indian side welcomed this endeavour which would further spur people-to-people interaction, and also enhance intellectual and artistic exchanges. India further announced that it would hold an Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art in Colombo during 2006.
- Both the Heads of Government noted that a positive collaborative relationship was being established for the study and monitoring of the environmental implications of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project. They endorsed that the outcome of the collaboration must be to reach a common understanding as to whether there are environmental consequences and if so, the action to be taken to mitigate them. They directed towards this end, the continuation of the interaction, as and when necessary, between the concerned technical experts from both sides. They also noted that the Project would bring in its wake developmental opportunities.
- Both sides reiterated the importance of continuing bilateral cooperation in the demarcation of the continental margins of the two countries.
- The Indian side welcomed the proposal by Sri Lanka for economic cooperation within the Palk Bay area. India looks forward to Sri Lanka presenting her proposals in the form of a Paper, which would then be the subject of study by an India-Sri Lanka Expert Group. The report of the Expert Group could be considered during the ongoing CEPA negotiations.
- The President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India noted that both countries have a record of unbroken commitment to the free and fair exercise of the franchise, and to democratic governance. The two sides were of the view that this common commitment, which is yet another of the many strong bonds between India and Sri Lanka, could be availed of by the establishment of India-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Associations in the national legislatures of both countries. They noted with satisfaction the formation of the Sri Lanka-India Parliamentary Friendship Association in the Sri Lankan Parliament on December 22, 2005, and the decision to form an India-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Group in the Indian Parliament. They envisaged that the Associations once established, would cooperate for the further development of democratic best practice, and for strengthening bilateral relations. They accordingly recommended that the Speakers and the Members of the Parliament of India and of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, may consider expeditiously taking the necessary steps towards this end.
- The President of Sri Lanka briefed the Indian leadership on his approach to the peace process to achieve maximum devolution which preserves the unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. The two sides agreed that an enduring solution can emerge only through internal political processes that promote consensus and reconciliation. India reiterated its support for a process of seeking a negotiated political settlement acceptable to all sections of Sri Lankan society within the framework of an undivided Sri Lanka and consistent with democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights. India continues to maintain an abiding interest in the security of Sri Lanka and remains committed to her unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Indian side expressed the hope that a political settlement of the ethnic issue based on devolution, openness, transparency and inclusivity would emerge through negotiations between the parties concerned, so as to ensure a peaceful and bright future for all Sri Lankans in an undivided and democratic Sri Lanka.
- The President of Sri Lanka apprised the Prime Minister of India of recent attacks on Sri Lankan security forces and other ceasefire violations. The two leaders deplored violations of the ceasefire, which could undermine the prospects for peace in Sri Lanka. The Indian side welcomed the Sri Lankan Government’s offer for early resumption of peace talks. Both sides emphasized the need for the strict observance of the ceasefire and immediate resumption of talks aimed at strengthening the ceasefire.
- Sri Lanka is appreciative of the Indian offer to provide intellectual and academic resources in support of the peace process. The Sri Lankan side thanked the Indian side for the presentation, during the Presidential State visit, on distribution of powers between Centre, States and local government in India.
- The State Visit by President Rajapaksa is testimony to the excellent relations between the two countries. President Rajapaksa invited their Excellencies the President and the Prime Minister of India to visit Sri Lanka at mutually convenient times.
December 30, 2005