May 27, New Delhi: The new Indian leader in his first day in office asked the government of Sri Lanka to expedite the process of national reconciliation by fully implementing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and going beyond.
The new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed this view when he warmly welcomed the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for bilateral talks this morning at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India.
The two leaders had an in-depth discussion of issues of mutual concern, a President's media release said.
President Rajapaksa described the initiatives Sri Lanka has taken with regard to rehabilitation, resettlement, reconstruction and the ongoing reconciliation process in the country.
Prime Minister Modi noted that India valued its relations with Sri Lanka and requested the government of Sri Lanka to expedite the process of national reconciliation in a manner that meets the aspirations of the Tamil community for a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a united Sri Lanka. Early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment and going beyond would contribute to this process.
The two leaders also discussed the issue of fishermen of both countries and measures that can be taken to find a permanent solution through a process in which the views of fishermen from both countries can be taken into consideration. Both agreed that talks between the fishermen and the meeting of the joint committee of officials must continue.
Prime Minister Modi expressed his gratitude to President Rajapaksa for participating in his inauguration ceremony, stating that the presence of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) leaders augurs well for the future of SAARC cooperation and solidarity. The Prime Minister was of the view that SAARC must focus on common issues that can benefit the region and reflect their concerns on a global platform.
President Rajapaksa, welcoming the views expressed by Prime Minister Modi, stated that India's leadership is crucial for the success of SAARC ventures and Sri Lanka looks forward to working with India in taking forward SAARC operations.
Discussing, India's development assistance programme and economic and commercial cooperation, the PM expressed interest in early launch of the 500 MW Sampur Coal Power project and greater connectivity between the two countries.
Both leaders reiterated their desire to further strengthen bilateral relations.
The President arrived in New Delhi yesterday (May 26), upon the invitation of Mr. Modi, on a two-day visit to attend the Prime Minister's swearing-in ceremony.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of Livestock and Rural Community Development Arumugam Thondaman, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Mayor of the Jaffna Municipal Council Mrs. Yogeswaray Patgunarajah, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Kshenuka Seneviratne and Sri Lanka's High Commissioner in New Delhi Prasad Kariyawasam were present at the meetings.
(Photos by Chandana Perera)