Jan 26, Colombo: A strong and mutually beneficial relationship with Sri Lanka, the nearest neighbor, continues to be at the core of India's neighborhood policy, India said today.
The High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Y.K. Sinha made this remark Sunday celebrating India's 65th Republic Day at India House in Colombo with the Indian expatriate community in Sri Lanka.
Speaking about the state of India-Sri Lanka relations during his address, the High Commissioner the reiterated that India is committed to Sri Lanka as a partner for realizing peace, harmony, growth and development.
"Our bilateral relations have been built on a rich legacy of civilizational, cultural, religious and linguistic interaction," Sinha said.
The High Commissioner highlighted that economic relations continue to be robust, with bilateral trade in 2013 reaching US$ 4 billion.
He stressed the need to expedite the implementation of the Sampur Power Project so that the energy needs of Sri Lanka are addressed. A host of other projects and initiatives in diverse areas are in various stages of implementation, he said.
Touching on the fishermen issue, the High Commissioner noted that the problem of fishermen of both countries straying across the international maritime boundary line dividing the two countries requires to be handled with sensitivity, taking into account the humanitarian and livelihood dimensions.
The meeting between fishermen’s associations on the two sides, scheduled to be held in Chennai on 27th January, is expected to lay the foundation for a long term resolution of this issue.
The High Commissioner recalled that the India-Sri Lanka partnership for Development Cooperation is built on the foundations of political understanding, a historic past, geographic realities and socio-cultural empathy.
"Although the nature of our assistance has continued to evolve since 2009, the focus remains mainly on capacity building, human resource development and infrastructure support," Sinha said in his address.
He noted that the end of the armed conflict presents an unparalleled opportunity to build a brighter future for all the people of Sri Lanka.
He said the India welcomed the successful culmination of elections to three Provincial Councils, including the Northern Provincial Council, in September 2013.
High Commissioner underlined that India continues to urge all stakeholders to engage constructively, in a spirit of partnership and mutual accommodation.
"Only such a cooperative approach will pave the way for genuine reconciliation and a political settlement," the envoy emphasized.
Marking the Republic Day, the High Commissioner unfurled the National Flag and inspected a Guard of Honour presented by the BSF contingent. He read out significant excerpts from the Address to the Nation on the eve of the Republic Day by India's President Pranab Mukherjee.
Following a brief cultural programme with patriotic songs and dance performances organized by the Indian Cultural Centre, the High Commission paid respects to the memory of fallen soldiers of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in a solemn ceremony at the IPKF memorial in Colombo.
The Consulates General of India in Jaffna and Hambantota and the Assistant High Commission of India in Kandy also celebrated the 65th Republic Day by organizing flag hoisting ceremonies Sunday.