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Prime Minister Modi Hopes for Genuine Reconciliation of Tamils in Sri Lanka

By TN Ashok / Diplomatic Editor

New Delhi, Sept 16 : India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi today hoped the wisdom and will of the current leadership in Sri Lanka will help achieve genuine reconciliation and development so that Lankans and Tamils can together lead a life of equality, justice , peace and most important dignity in a united Sri lanka.

In a statement before his joint press conference with his sri Lankan counterpart RanilWickremesinghe , Modi said  Sri Lanka’s progress was  important for both her and India , South Asia and the maritime region.

Modi said he had excellent discussions with the visiting sri Lankan prime minister and together they welcomed some significant developments in bilateral relations since March, including the currency swap arrangement. “ We also expressed hope that progress on key bilateral initiatives and projects will gather speed now’, Modi said .

Modi said both India and Sri Lanka desired deeper economic engagement. We would like to see our trade grow and become more balanced for Sri Lanka. We discussed how we can achieve these goals in a more open and competitive Indian market, including through bilateral arrangements for trade and investments, Modi pointed out.

India sought Sri Lanka’s support for Indian investors, who are keen to participate in Sri Lanka’s economic development, especially in infrastructure, energy and transport sectors. “I offered India’s full support to strengthen connectivity between our two countries to deepen human and economic links that will benefit all sections of our societies’. Modi said .

Prime Minister Modi assured Prime Minister Wickremesinghe of continuing commitment to “ our development partnership – in infrastructure, railways, energy, community development projects, agriculture, capacity building, science and technology, space and civil nuclear field. “

Modi referred to the current visit of Wickremesinghe to India , his first after his election as Prime Minister, as a historic year for India-Sri Lanka relations, as it is for Sri Lanka. We had the honour of hosting President Sirisena on his maiden visit abroad in February. I had the privilege of an extraordinary visit to Sri Lanka in March. Now, we have Prime Minister Wickremesinghe here.

Sri Lanka has voted twice this year for change, reforms, reconciliation and progress. There can be no stronger statement of Sri Lanka’s democratic tradition. There can be no clearer sign of Sri Lanka’s march towards a peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous future, Modi said.

As a close neighbour and friend, we wish Sri Lanka every success; rejoice in your progress; and, assure you of India’s unwavering support. So, we are pleased that the Government of Sri Lanka has taken a number of significant steps in recent times. The leadership has shown remarkable political unity, at a time of great hope, he said.

We will continue to nurture people-to-people ties. We just finished an absorbing test series. We shall all miss the great Kumar Sangakkara on the cricket field, Modi said .

Modi said India recognised the closely aligned security interests and the need to remain sensitive to each other’s concerns. We both reaffirmed our commitment to deepen our defence and security cooperation.” We will intensify cooperation in combating terrorism and work together for security and stability in our maritime neighbourhood. Sri Lanka is our largest partner in defence training programme and we will continue to expand our cooperation in this area. “

On the vexatious fishermen’s issue affecting the indian state of Tamil Nadu, Prime Minister Modi said he had discussed the fishermen issue and “ We agreed that fishermen’s associations on both sides should continue their efforts to find a solution. “

Modi said : “I conveyed to him that this should be seen as a humanitarian issue that affects livelihoods. I informed him of the steps we are taking to encourage Indian fishermen to take up deep sea fishing.

India and Sri Lanka have a huge stake in each other’s success, and in stability and development in our region, Modi said adding “ This is a relationship that touches the hearts of ordinary Indians and Sri Lankans. It is also of great strategic importance to our two countries. With President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, we can look to the future with great optimism.

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