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* South Africa to assist Sri Lanka's reconciliation process and economic development
Sat, Aug 11, 2012, 11:55 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Aug 11, Colombo: South Africa, drawing upon their own experience, has offered its support for Sri Lanka's reconciliation process and the country's drive for economic development.

A visiting South African Delegation has given this assurance during separate meetings with the Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa and the External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris.

Minister Rajapaksa has held bilateral discussions at his Ministry Friday with the South African Deputy Minister of International Relation and Cooperation Ebrahim Ebrahim, who currently has an important role with regard to international affairs in the African National Congress.

The Minister has apprised the South African Deputy Minister of the speedy progress Sri Lanka has made following the end of the war.

However, there are delays in resettling the old displaced Muslims who had left or chased away from the conflict affected areas, Rajapaksa has told the delegation.

The Minister enlightened the South African delegations that the government has almost finished resettling the people displaced by the recent conflict and is now focusing on resettling old IDPs with many difficulties.

For smooth reconciliation process all the IDPs must be resettled, Rajapaksa has stressed.

During the meeting, the progress made in the recent understanding on the air traffic arrangements has been reviewed and the two ministers have decided to expand the facilities for the direct air links between the two countries.

They have agreed to facilitate for more exchanges between business communities of the two countries and to strengthen the cooperation between business organizations.

A proposed visit of the Deputy Economic Development Minister of South Africa will help to further the economic cooperation between the two countries, South African Deputy Minister has said.

During the meeting with External Affairs Minister, the South African delegation has followed up on the issues the Minister has discussed with the South African leaders including President Jacob Zuma and Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane during his official visit to South Africa in March this year.

Minister Peiris has enlightened the South African delegation on developments in Sri Lanka, in particular the progress which had been made with regard to resettlement of internally displaced persons, the re-integration into society of ex-combatants and the successful completion of de-mining operations.

He has also described the economic revival in the Northern Province, largely in consequence of the emphasis on the development of infrastructure especially highways, railroad systems and irrigation in that part of the country, a External Affairs Ministry statement said.

The Minister has provided detailed information on structured implementation of recommendations contained in the Report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

The Minister, during the discussions has emphasized the importance of a home-grown solution if implementation is to be achieved.

The South African delegation has told Minister Peiris that they would be happy to render all assistance to Sri Lanka, drawing upon their own experience and insights.

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