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Statement by EAM on arrival at Colombo

November 25, 2010

Friends

I am delighted to arrive in Sri Lanka this evening.

India-Sri Lanka bonds are historical and civilisational – the arrival of Prince Arhat Mahinda in 3rd Century Before Christ heralded the advent of Buddhism into Sri Lanka. Over the years, our links have become truly multifaceted. Given these links and our mutual support in times of need and adversity, a more comprehensive relationship beckons us.

The visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2008 and President Rajapaksa twice this year have been landmark visits. The Joint Commission, which I will Co-chair with my counterpart Prof. Peiris, Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka, will ensure that the decisions taken during these visits are closely monitored and implemented.

During my visit, I look forward to calling on H.E. President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Jayaratne. I will be inaugurating our Consulates in Jaffna and Hambantota, which will serve to promote our people-to-people links. I also look forward to inaugurating the Pilot Project of 1000 houses in Jaffna for the resettlement of IDPs in the Northern Province. As you are aware, India will be taking up the construction of 50,000 houses in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka. I will also inaugurate the construction work on the railway lines in the North. India has committed itself to extending an assistance of US$ 800 million as lines of credit for railway infrastructure development.

India and Sri Lanka are actively collaborating on a range of developmental and connectivity issues and rehabilitation projects. These include the rehabilitation of the Colombo-Matara railway line in the South, resumption of ferry services between Colombo and Tuticorin and Thalaimannar and Rameswaram, rehabilitation of the KKS harbour, projects to resettle and rehabilitate the Internally Displaced Persons and war widows and revive their livelihood etc.

It is our hope, and the Sri Lankan Government has assured us that the remaining IDPs in the camps would be re-settled by the end of this year.

Economic engagement, connectivity, tourism and knowledge industry are areas of great potential in our future bilateral cooperation. We hope to intensify our trade and investments as we recover from the global recession.

The end of the armed conflict holds out hope that an era of reconciliation will begin in Sri Lanka. A meaningful devolution package would help create conditions for a lasting peace.

I would like to conclude by mentioning that India and Sri Lanka have an unprecedented opportunity to take our relationship forward and I am confident that my visit will generate further momentum in that direction.

Thank You

Colombo
November 25, 2010

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