July 21, Colombo: A group of members from India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including the Chairman of BJP's Committee on Strategic Action and Former Union Minister Dr. Subramanian Swamy, met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees today.
The group discussed a number of issues of bilateral and regional significance, including the functions carried out by the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and Sri Lanka's strategic importance in relation to this work, indicating that Sri Lanka plays a pivotal role in guarding the Indian Ocean. They pledged their fullest support for a continued Sri Lankan role in this regard.
The BJP team told President Rajapaksa that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants "excellent relations with Sri Lanka."
President Rajapaksa told the team of Sri Lanka's interest in establishing a center of excellence in maritime and environmental studies.
The other BJP members who participated in the meeting with the President include Dr. Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Dr. Chari Seshadri Ramanujan, Dr. Swapan Dasgupta and Prof. Madhav Nalapat. They also spoke about the post-war progress Sri Lanka is making after the end of the war.
"Sri Lanka is the only country that has decisively dealt with terrorism," said Dr. Ramanujan.
Pointing out that Sri Lanka's security is important to India, Dr. Swamy told the President that the end of the war has benefited Indian security as well.
In particular, they commended the Government's initiatives in the north and east toward improving infrastructure, bringing better educational opportunities to students and implementing programs to make Sri Lanka a trilingual nation.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L Peiris and Presidential Advisor Dr. Sunimal Fernando also participated in the discussion.
(Photos by Udesh Gunaratna)