Apr 05, Colombo: Singapore today asked Sri Lanka to find a process to reach a "just and equitable closure" to the events of the three-decade long war that will be acceptable to all the different communities, including the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communities.
Issuing a statement at the end of his four-day official visit to Sri Lanka, Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam said if no such closure was achieved, then a lasting reconciliation would be difficult. He said Singapore encourages Sri Lanka to work out a process which would seek to achieve such a closure.
During his visit the Singapore Minister called on the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and had discussions with his Sri Lankan counterpart Minister of External Affairs, Prof G L Peiris, and the Secretary of Defense and Urban Development, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
During his meetings, Minister Shanmugam discussed the positive progress in bilateral ties between Singapore and Sri Lanka, as well as various possible avenues to expand and deepen the existing bilateral cooperation between the two countries. Minister Shanmugam also signed a revised Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement with Minister Peiris.
Minister Shanmugam visited Jaffna and met with the Governor of the Northern Province G.A. Chandrasiri, the Chief Minister of the Northern Province C.V. Vigneswaran, and the Mayor of Jaffna Yogeswary Pathkunarajah.
During the meetings, the Northern leaders have apprised the visiting Minister on recent developments in Jaffna.
Chief Minister Vigneswaran has apprised Minister Shanmugam of the challenges his administration is facing. He has informed the Minister that the circumstances which the Northern Administration found itself in, as well as the restrictions being imposed on it, were making it very difficult for his Administration to carry out its duties.
The Minister launched several community development projects that will benefit the youth in Jaffna district. Among the projects launched was the Singapore International Foundation (SIF)'s project to enhance competency in the English language by training teachers and librarians to assist students better. A mobile library was also presented to the people in the district.
Regarding the redevelopment process that would be needed to help the people of Northern Province, Minister Shanmugam said that Singapore's objective was to extend concrete assistance to the people of Jaffna.
He also reiterated that Singapore's focus was to help the people of Sri Lanka, within its means and in tits areas of expertise. Singapore will explore how it can do more in this regard, the Minister said.
(Photos by Sudath Silva)