Sri Lanka

India-Sri Lanka joint press releae

26th October 2008, New Delhi - Keeping in mind the close bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka, President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa sent as his Special Envoy Honourable Basil Rajapaksa, Member of Parliament and Senior Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka to visit New Delhi, on 26th October 2008. During his visit, the Sri Lankan Special Envoy held discussions with External Affairs Minister, National Security Advisor and Foreign Secretary.

The Indian side appreciated deeply the initiative of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to send his Special Envoy. The discussions were positive and constructive and centered around a range of issues.

India conveyed its concern at the humanitarian situation in the northern part of Sri Lanka, especially of the civilians and internally displaced persons caught in the hostilities and emphasised the need for unhindered essential relief supplies. Mr. Rajapaksa briefed the Indian authorities of the efforts by the Sri Lanka Government to afford relief and ensure the welfare of the civilian population in the North. He assured that the safety and wellbeing of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka is being taken care of.

As a gesture of goodwill, India has decided to send around 800 tonnes of relief material to Sri Lanka for the affected civilians in the North. The Government of Sri Lanka will facilitate the delivery. Both sides agreed to consult and cooperate with each other in addressing these humanitarian issues.

Both sides discussed the need to move towards a peacefully negotiated political settlement in the island including in the North. Both sides agreed that terrorism should be countered with resolve. The Indian side called for implementation of the 13th Amendment and greater devolution of powers to the provinces. Mr. Basil Rajapaksa emphasized that the President of Sri Lanka and his Government were firmly committed to a political process that would lead to a sustainable solution.

Both sides agreed to further nurture the democratic process in the Eastern Province. Mr. Rajapaksa briefed the Indian side of the large development effort underway in the Eastern Province.

With regard to issues relating to fishermen, in view of the humanitarian and livelihood dimensions involved, both sides agreed to put in place practical arrangements to deal with bona fide Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line and to continue discussions on the proposed MOU on development and cooperation in the field of fisheries.

Discussions in New Delhi during Mr. Rajapaksa's visit were characterized by a spirit of constructive engagement on both sides. Both Governments will remain in close touch.