Moragoda to Delhi for more talks on defence pact

[TamilNet, Friday, 23 January 2004, 09:57 GMT]
Mr.Milinda Morogoda, a senior minister in the United National Front (UNF) government, is due to leave for India Friday to hold further talks with Indian Foreign Minister Mr.Yaswanth Sinha and Defense Minister Mr.Geroge Fernandez on the proposed defense agreement between the two governments.

Minister's visit comes amidst moves by President Chandrika Kumaratunga to expedite the signing of the pact. Discussions on the proposed Defence Cooperation Pact with India were initiated by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe when he met Indian PM Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee in Delhi last year.

Following this meeting, Colombo sent a high powered defense team to New Delhi led by the Chief of Defense Staff and Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Lt. General Lionel Balagalle.

The Sri Lankan team's discussions with Indian defense official centred mainly on training, exchange of intelligence and joint patrols in the Indian Ocean by the two countries.

However, after President Kumaratunga took over the Ministry of Defence last November, she sent her own team to India to expedite and conclude the agreement.

Both the Sri Lankan PM and President are keen take credit for the pact because it is widely welcomed by Sinhala nationalists as a check on the LTTE's military and naval power.

 

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