Sri Lanka is safe - Speaker Nasheed | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka is safe - Speaker Nasheed

A top Maldivian delegation visited Sri Lanka yesterday in a show of solidarity after the Easter Sunday bombings which had brought the country to a standstill. The incident, nearly two months ago dealt a severe blow to Sri Lanka’s economy and toursim industry.

The delegation comprised Speaker and the former President Mohamed Nasheed, Vice President Faisal Naseem along with a group of parliamentarians from the Maldives Democratic Party.

“We wish to express the view that Sri Lanka is safe to come on holiday, safe for shopping.

Sri Lanka is as safe as all other countries,” Speaker Nasheed said addressing reporters in a Colombo hotel after meeting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

“Terrorism is an issue, probably the single biggest issue, the nation states now face, especially in South Asia,” Nasheed said.

He said, this one incident is not a pattern, referring to the blasts and added ‘we don’t see that this incident can be compared to what happened in the past (to LTTE terrorism).

“We will stand with you through good times and bad,” Speaker Nasheed said, adding that Sri Lanka had been part of the Maldives’ history, while its tourism, education and health sectors were built upon Sri Lanka’s expertise. We want to show the whole world that Sri Lanka is as safe as it was, Vice President Naseem told the media.The Speaker said they were aware of the threats posed by the IS and other terror organisations and the Maldivian government is closely monitoring the situation and ‘the government is aware of who is where and doing what,’ when it comes to IS threat. He said the Maldives is collaborating with Sri Lankan authorities and international agencies to fight IS threat in the region.

Nasheed acknowledged that there were 50-250 Maldivians in Syria and Iraq fighting for the Islamic State and their return can be accommodated with international screening. Some 30-40 children are also languishing in camps in Syria.

He said the Maldivian nationals have not been targeted after the Easter Sunday attacks and they were more worried about extending their visas.The visa regime which was made strict following the bomb attacks have since been relaxed and the Maldivians are hopeful it would be further relaxed, Nasheed said.

The delegation was here on the invitation of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.

‘We stand with the people of Lanka’

Maldivian Speaker Mohamed Nasheed refuted the recent visit of MP Namal Rajapaksa to the Maldives as an image booster for the budding politician.

Asked by the media the Speaker said, “He is the son of former president and a parliamentarian, we have met him many times, and when there was a request it was only polite to meet him.” He said that he realised it was an election phase and they did not want to give undue prominence to anyone. “When it comes to elections we stand with the people of Sri Lanka and we don’t have any special preferences,” the former Maldivian President who was raised and educated in Sri Lanka said. Namal Rajapaksa reportedly met the Maldivian President, the Speaker, Ministers of Defence, Finance and Youth among others.