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* Sri Lanka-India bilateral relationship not affected by protests, President assures
Sat, Feb 9, 2013, 09:20 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 09, Colombo: Demonstrations carried out by the extremist Tamil political parties in India will not affect the cordial bilateral relationship existing between Indian and Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was on a two-day personal visit to India, assured.

Responding to questions from Indian media during his visit to the Venkateswara Temple at Tirupati Saturday, the Sri Lankan President said his visit to India is purely a religious visit and the protests staged against his visit will not in any way affect the historic relationship between the two countries.

He further said that India is world's largest democracy and the people in India have the right to hold protests.

He told the media that Sri Lankan government has spent a large amount of money for the development of the war-affected Northern and Eastern provinces, where a majority of Tamils live, to provide equal opportunities and equal facilities for all communities in the country.

He invited the Indian media personnel to visit Sri Lanka to get a firsthand knowledge about the actual situation in the country.

Officials of the famous Hindu Temple in Tirumala have welcomed the President and his entourage, Indian media reported.

President Rajapaksa accompanied by First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa has participated in an early morning ritual at the Hindu temple Saturday.

The President visited Bodhgaya in Bihar on Friday and paid homage to the Mahabodhi Temple amid protests staged by the pro-Eelam Tamil parties in state of Tamil Nadu.

The Bihar Chief Minister has hosted the President and the dignitaries for a lunch and has seen off the President at the airport. During his visit the Indian government provided heavy security to the Sri Lankan President. Indian authorities have arrested over 900 people who staged demonstrations against the President's visit.

Following his visit to the Hindu temple in Tirupati Saturday, President and his entourage returned to Sri Lanka this evening amid tight security.

Indian media reported that the road from Tirumala Hills to the Renigunta airport was closed for traffic and security was beefed up along the route.



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