The President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, assured India on Tuesday that he will not allow Sri Lanka to be used for any activity that could pose a threat to India’s security, following a meeting with the Indian Foreign Secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
The President’s media unit said that Rajapaksa made the assurance on India’s security describing the importance of the geographical positioning of India and Sri Lanka.
Rajapaksa also explained his country’s relationship with China and assured that India should not have any doubt about it. During the meeting, a discussion was also held on enhancing the opportunities for the Sri Lankan military to train in India.
The Sri Lankan President also reiterated the need to reintroduce former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s 1971 proposal to declare the Indian Ocean as a Peace Zone and urged India’s support for this endeavor.
The President stressed the need to reintroduce the strong ties between the two countries, similar to what it was during the 1960s and 70s.
Rajapaksa also told the Indian Foreign Secretary that his government is taking measures to create an environment for all the Tamil people who left the country to return to the island nation and said that at the recently-concluded United Nations summit, he extended an open invitation to the Tamil diaspora and all Tamil people living around the world.
Rajapaksa has also stated that 90 percent of the lands in the North and East acquired for security reasons during the war has been returned and compensation has been paid to the families of the disappeared.
While inviting Indian investors to Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa said that the subject minister has been vested with the responsibility to resolve the issue relating to the Trincomalee Oil Tanks in the East in a way that would benefit both countries.
Rajapaksa assured that the long-dragging issue relating to fishermen in the two countries could be resolved, providing benefits to the fishing communities in both parties.
Rajapaksa also extended an invitation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Sri Lanka.
During the meeting with the President, the Indian Foreign Secretary underscored the importance India attaches to expeditiously taking forward mutually beneficial projects, including proposals to enhance air and sea connectivity between India and Sri Lanka.
He reiterated India’s position on the complete implementation of the provisions under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, including devolution of power and the holding of provincial council elections at the earliest.
Shringla later left Sri Lanka after completing his three-day visit. During his first-ever visit, the Foreign Secretary met Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, Lankan Foreign Secretary Admiral (Retd) Jayanath Colombage, and some Tamil political leaders.
He also visited the historical Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, the India-run oil tanks in Trincomalee, and the former war-torn Northern city of Jaffna.
During his meeting with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday, Shringla stated that India-Sri Lanka relations are underpinned by vibrant people-to-people ties which would be further strengthened with the signing of the inter-governmental MoU for the $15 million Buddhism grant.
As a mark of goodwill and to bolster cultural links between the two countries, he said India will welcome the inaugural flight from Sri Lanka to Kushinagar, a religiously important place for Buddhists.
(With IANS inputs)