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* India, Sri Lanka to deepen trade, tourism and investment relations
Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 08:07 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 22, Colombo: Sri Lanka and India, recognizing the need to build a special economic partnership framework to achieve the common goals of poverty alleviation, job creation and economic development for the people of the two countries, have agreed to deepen the trade, tourism and investment relations.

In this context, the two countries at the 8th India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission held Tuesday in New Delhi agreed to take measures to double the bilateral trade to US$ 10 billion within the next three years.

During the Joint Commission Meeting (JCM), co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka Prof. G.L. Peiris and his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid, the two sides comprehensively reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations.

Following today's meeting, the two countries have signed two agreements to "Combat International Terrorism and Illicit Drug Trafficking" and to revise the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.

Both countries as a measure to expand bilateral trade agreed to initiate a dialogue between the Commerce Secretary of India and the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development of Sri Lanka at an early date to evolve a framework for a special economic partnership between the two countries.

The Joint Commission expressed satisfaction with the progress made in implementation of the projects funded by India to relief, resettlement and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and livelihood generation and reconstruction efforts in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka.

Both sides, noting the impressive growth of two-way tourism traffic between the two countries, agreed to meet at the earliest to finalize and sign a revised Air Services Agreement and to restart the ferry services between Thalaimannar and Rameswaram.

The Joint Commission also decided to hold the meeting of the Joint Working Group on Tourism in the first quarter to 2013 to identify potential areas of cooperation, including marketing and capacity-building.

The two sides also agreed to speed up and complete the India -funded Sampur Power Project to build a coal power plant in the Trincomalee district of Eastern Sri Lanka by 2016.

The Joint Commission noted that both sides are committed to decrease incidents pertaining to fishing on the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and decided to encourage senior officials of the Joint Working Group on Fishing to meet regularly to continue the dialogue to strengthen cooperation on fishing related issues.

Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in the energy sector and to promote dialogue on security and defence issues of relevance to the bilateral relationship.

The Joint Commission noted that the trilateral cooperation mechanism between India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives was an important initiative to promote maritime security in the region.

During his visit to New Delhi, Minister Peiris has also met with the Prime Minister of India and had a separate meeting with the External Affairs Minister of India.

Minister Kurshid has accepted an invitation extended by Minister Peiris to visit Sri Lanka in the first half of 2013 on a date to be worked out through diplomatic channels.

The next session of the Joint Commission would be held in Sri Lanka in the first half of 2014 on a date to be mutually agreed upon between the two sides.



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