Colombo, Oct 7: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Monday said he had discussed the fishermen’s issue with his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris and it was decided that the problem would be dealt with in a humane manner, without resorting to violence.
“We also discussed the fishermen’s issue and agreed on the need to deal with it in a humane manner without resorting to violence under any circumstances,” Khurshid said at a joint press conference with Peiris.
“In this regard, we agreed to encourage fishermen’s associations on both sides, which had met in the past and reached some understandings, to meet again to work on developing this further,” Khurshid added.
Khurshid also said that he discussed all issues of bilateral, regional and international concern with his Sri Lankan counterpart. “We had the opportunity to review progress in various areas, including trade, investment, development cooperation, culture and education,” he said.
Additionally, Khurshid said that during the talks the two leaders looked at the progress made on the implementation of the Indian assisted projects for IDPs, particularly the Housing Project, as well as projects relating to the development of railway infrastructure in the North and the South.
“I am happy to note that our development cooperation projects, including the housing and railway projects, are progressing well and are expected to be completed on schedule. As you are aware, our development assistance projects are entirely based on the priorities set by the government and the people of Sri Lanka. The main themes are connectivity, housing, health, education, livelihood restoration and economic revival,” Khurshid said.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Minister Peiris are expected to be witnessing the signing of 8 agreements relating to the Sampur Thermal Power Project and an MoU for Technical Assistance in support of the 10-year National Plan for a Trilingual Sri Lanka at the Presidential Secretariat.
With the conclusion of the Sampur project related agreements today, Khurshid said that he hoped that the two leaders would be able to commence work on the ground and pick up pace for completion of the project by 2016, as per their agreement earlier.
“I am also hopeful that, through the MoU for implementation of the Trilingual Plan, we will be able to contribute to this important initiative, thereby aiding national reconciliation and promoting harmony between the various linguistic communities in Sri Lanka,” Khurshid said.
Speaking on trade, Khurshid said that he was happy that the bilateral trade in goods has expanded significantly in recent years, and announced that it had reached USD 5 billion mark.
Commenting on the growth of tourism and investment, Khurshid said that India had made a significant contribution on both fronts and said that to sustain this positive momentum in trade and economic relations with Sri Lanka, he felt it would be important to finalize a more comprehensive framework of economic cooperation.
Commenting on the culmination of elections in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, Khurshid said that India has maintained its hope for an early political settlement and national reconciliation in the area.
“We hope that successful culmination of elections to the Northern Province will usher a new beginning towards a better future for the people in the North. India has been consistent in calling for an early political settlement and national reconciliation through meaningful devolution of powers, so to ensure that all citizens of Sri Lanka, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, would lead a life marked by equality, justice, dignity and self-respect,” Khurshid said.
“It is our hope that the vision and leadership that resulted in an end to armed conflict and holding of elections to the Northern Province, will now be employed to work for genuine reconciliation,” he said.
“We will continue to work with the Government of Sri Lanka, and help in whatever way we can, to take this process forward, in a spirit of partnership and cooperation,” he added.
Khurshid is expected to call on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa tomorrow morning.
On Tuesday, Khurshid is scheduled to visit Jaffna to review India’s development assistance projects and meet the Governor and the Chief Minister of Northern Provincial Council.
Amongst the two Agreements which have been signed today, the first MoU, envisages assistance in development of Trilingual (Sinhala, Tamil, English) training skills and expertise in Sri Lanka under which Government of India would provide 180 man days of expert services per year in teaching techniques and extend training to 45 Sri Lankan Master Trainers per year for three years starting from 2013.
The Second Agreement related to Sampur Power Project.
The eight agreements, scheduled to be signed, pertain to various aspects of power project to set up a coal fired power project of 500MW capacity, through a 50:50 Joint venture between NTPC Ltd and the Ceylon Electricity Board of Sri Lanka(CEB). (ANI)
By Mrityunjay Singh