India - Lanka need to rethink security – PM | Sunday Observer

India - Lanka need to rethink security – PM

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during a ceremonial reception at the Presidential palace in New Delhi yesterday. Prime Minister Rajapaksa is due to conclude his four-day state visit to India tomorrow. – AFP
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during a ceremonial reception at the Presidential palace in New Delhi yesterday. Prime Minister Rajapaksa is due to conclude his four-day state visit to India tomorrow. – AFP

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said India and Sri Lanka have to rethink its national security strategies especially in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday terror attacks and that assistance from India in this regard would be much appreciated, in an address to the press at Hyderabad House in New Delhi yesterday.

Reiterating what President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said during his state visit earlier, the two leaders, in a joint press interaction emphasized the need for joint action to root out terrorism in the region.

“Terrorism is a major threat in our region. Both our countries have fought this problem vigorously. In April last year, there were barbaric terrorist attacks on Easter Day in Sri Lanka. These were attacks on the entire humanity,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

Premier Rajapaksa thanked Indian Prime Minister Modi for visiting Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks. He said the visit provided Sri Lanka with immense strength to come to terms with the tragedy.

He said India has always assisted Sri Lanka to enhance its capabilities in intelligence and counter-terrorism, and the country looked forward to continued support in this regard.

The Prime Minister thanked Prime Minister Modi for his Government’s “Neighbourhood First” policy and the priority that he attaches to relations with Sri Lanka. We agreed that our cooperation is multi-faceted, with priority given to a number of areas, including security, economic, cultural and social sectors.

The discussions between Premier Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Modi premised on the outcome of the discussions that Prime Minister Modi held with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his State Visit to India in November last year.

The Prime Minister also appreciated Prime Minister Modi’s offers of 400 million dollars as a credit line to enhance the economy of Sri Lanka and another 50 million dollar credit line for our efforts in combating terrorism. We discussed how to follow-up on these offers that was made during President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s visit in November last year.

He said another topic of our discussion was the progress of ongoing projects that are being implemented in Sri Lanka with Indian assistance. PM Rajapksa has requested Prime Minister Modi to consider further assistance to expand the housing project to all parts of the island.

Rajapaksa said Prime Minister Modi and he also discussed how Sri Lanka and India could work together and how Sri Lanka could benefit out of certain economic sectors where India is strongly positioned as one of the world’s growing economies.

PM Modi has also stressed that ,”I am confident that Sri Lankan government will realise expectations of Tamil people for equality, justice, peace within united Sri Lanka, “ while adding that he was confident the government will work towards achieving reconciliation among the communities.

The Prime Minister also renewed his invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit Sri Lanka in the near future. The talks between the two prime ministers covered the entire expanse of bilateral ties between the two countries including in areas of defence and security.

Meanwhile, India’s Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar called on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in New Delhi yesterday (February 08).

“Your visit is a very important opportunity for us to set the course for the next five years,” Minister Jaishankar told the Prime Minister.

Both delegations discussed the status of ongoing projects in Sri Lanka that are being implemented with Indian assistance. The two sides agreed to expedite a number of projects that have not seen much progress in the past few years.

Minister Jaishankar said there is a lot of interest in Sri Lanka in areas like tourism. He suggested that a team soon be sent to India to “market Sri Lanka” as a tourist destination. Typically, Sri Lanka receives the largest number of tourists from India. In 2018, tourist arrivals from India amounted to 424,887. This reduced in 2019 as a result of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.

Minister Jaishankar further said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka shortly after the Easter Sunday attacks in 2019 was very intentionally to send a message to India and the world that Sri Lanka is safe. Prime Minister Modi was the first world leader to visit Sri Lanka after the Easter Sunday attacks.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa briefed the Minister on the new islandwide housing project that was initiated recently and invited India to consider providing assistance similar to the previous housing projects they have helped fund.

The two delegations also discussed the long-standing concerns of the fishing communities of both countries. Agreeing that this is a problem that benefits neither side, both countries agreed to work more closely together to find a practical solution in a way that benefits all affected fishing communities.

The delegation to India included Ministers Arumugam Thondaman and Douglas Devananda, Secretary to the President Dr.P.B.Jayasundera, Secretary to the PM Gamini Senarath, Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinga and Senior Advisor to the PM Prof.G.L.Peiris.

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