High Commission of Sri Lanka in India

India - Sri lanka Relations


Remarks by Hon S.M. Krishna at inauguration of CGI Hambantota

Hon'ble Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure today to be present at this seminal event. The opening of this Consulate General of India in Hambantota is reflective of India's desire to strengthen its linkages with a region of Sri Lanka with which my country shares deep historical bonds.

Religious, cultural and linguistic interface between our two countries goes back several centuries. Prince Arhat Mahinda's arrival in Anuradhapura in the 3rd century Before Christ, which heralded the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, is a story that has been told over many generations. Respected Sri Lankan scholars have drawn parallels and linkages between religious practices in Southern Sri Lankan and Southern India. Not too far from here is Dondra, which in the past housed a magnificent thousand-pillared Vishnu temple described in the Sandesaya poem of the Sinhalese poet Alagiavanna. And of course, one cannot forget that we are not too far away either from the famous Kataragama shrine, where Hindu Tamils and Sinhalese Buddhists worship the God Murugan or Skanda at the same location.

In recent years, southern Sri Lanka came to the attention because of the terrible impact of the tsunami that struck this region in 2004. On that occasion, India, which was impacted itself, was the first to come to Sri Lanka's assistance. Indian Navy ships with food, drinking water and medical attention on board were at Sri Lankan shores within 24 hours, delivering much needed succour to many affected communities who live within a few kilometers of here.

India has also taken up the reconstruction of the damaged Southern railway corridor from Galle to Matara. I am happy that the work on this railway line is proceeding on schedule.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our relations are multifaceted and historical. The challenge has been to derive the full benefit of our proximity and exploit the full potential of our friendship and cooperation. With the shadow of the conflict lifting, I believe that the time has come when we can do that.

The visit of H.E. President Rajapaksa to India in June this year opened a significant chapter in our bilateral relations. Our Prime Minister and President Rajapaksa agreed to intensify our development cooperation, revive connectivity and the age-old cultural links and enhance our economic engagement. It was further agreed that the 2600th year of the attainment of enlightenment by Lord Buddha (Sambuddhatva Jayanthi) will be commemorated through joint activities.

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Remarks by Minister S.M. Krishna at Inauguration of the Reconstruction of Northern Railway Lines PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail

November 27, 2010

Hon'ble Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development,
Hon'ble G. L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs,
Hon'ble Kumar Welgama, Minister of Transport,
Hon'ble Rohan Dissanayake, Deputy Minister of Transport,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.


It gives me immense pleasure to participate in today's event of the formal inauguration of works for the reconstruction of the Northern Railway lines. We are deeply honoured by the presence of senior Ministers of the Government of Sri Lanka. Let me take this opportunity to reiterate at the outset that we are committed to working with the Government of Sri Lanka towards the consolidation of peace, prosperity and development in Sri Lanka and for the further enrichment of our bilateral ties.

Following the end of armed conflict in Sri Lanka last year, the development partnership between India and Sri Lanka has expanded significantly. Much of our initial assistance was for relief and rehabilitation as the Government of Sri Lanka addressed the challenges involved in resettling the nearly three lakh Internally Displaced Persons. As the task of resettlement proceeds, our assistance is moving into the areas of reconstruction in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka where we aim to complement the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka.

As part of our effort to provide for the reconstruction of Northern Sri Lanka, the Government of India has pledged a line of credit of US$ 800 million at significantly concessional rates for various aspects of the Northern Railway project, including reconstruction of railway lines, installation of signalling and telecom systems and the procurement of rolling stock.

Today's ceremony marks the launch of works on the Medawachchiya-Madhu line by IRCON International Ltd., which is a leading Indian company in railway infrastructure and is already working on the rehabilitation of the Southern Railway, which is also being financed through an Indian line of credit. I understand that the work on Phase 1 of the project in the Galle-Matara Section is progressing well and is likely to be completed by December 2010. IRCON has assured us that in the north too, this work undertaken by them would be completed within schedule. Work will also begin simultaneously on the Madhu-Talaimannar and Omanthai-Pallai railway lines. In this context, I would also like to recognize the efforts put in by the demining teams from India to clear the project area of mines.

As a part of these works, a new pier at Talaimannar will also be built. In order to enable resumption of ferry services between Talaimannar and Rameswaram at an early date, IRCON will also build a temporary jetty at Talaimannar. The resumption of this ferry service will re-establish old ties and the linkages that have existed historically between our two countries.

I believe that both our countries should continue to work together in the spirit of partnership, as our destinies are interlinked. The reconstruction of transport-related infrastructure would restore normal life, generate and support livelihood-related activities and also assist in restoring connectivity, not only within the Northern Province, but also with the rest of the country, thus promoting integration and reconciliation.

Before I conclude, I would like to place on record my deep appreciation for the cooperation extended by various agencies of the Government of Sri Lanka, including the Ministry of Transport and Sri Lanka Railways, in developing the railways projects. Continued cooperation between our agencies will be crucial for the timely completion of these projects. This cooperation is testimony to the strength of our cooperation and the enduring friendship that exists between our two countries and peoples.

Thank you.

Medawachchiya
November 27, 2010

 
Remarks by Minister S.M. Krishna at Inauguration of CGI Jaffna PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail

November 27, 2010

Hon'ble Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka,
Hon’ble Governor of the Northern Province
Distinguished Ministers and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am grateful to you all for being present here today for the opening of the Consulate General of India in Jaffna.

India's relations with Sri Lanka would be incomplete without highlighting the special relationship that exists between the people of the Northern Province in general, the Jaffna Peninsula in particular and those of southern India.

Over centuries, Jaffna has always stood at the crossroads of history, culture and religion, kings and kingdoms, trade and commerce, and arts, dance and literature. Jaffna port was on the main sea route of its times. One of the great epics of Tamil literature – Manimekalai - has reference to Jaffna. Jaffna’s Tamil equivalent – Yaalpanam – itself refers to the mythical harp player from Kanchipuram receiving the land as a royal gift. Tamil intellectuals and scholars from Jaffna like Arumuga Navalar and C.W.Thamodaram Pillai have enriched Tamil literature by their deep understanding and study of ancient Tamil literature. It is, therefore, natural that when India decided to establish a Consulate General, Jaffna was a logical, almost inevitable, place for such a presence.

There must be several in this audience who would have seen the days when there was a direct flight from Palaly to Trichy and a ferry service from Talaimannar to Rameswaram. It is possible that some among you may even have gone off to Chennai – Madras as it was called – only to catch a movie. It’s time to revive those links.

Friends,

Sri Lanka has recently come through probably the most difficult period in its history. While the armed conflict that ended last year impacted on all sections of the population of this country, it did so disproportionately on the civilian population of the Northern Province, as innocent men, women and children were caught up in the cross-fire not of their own making. Several thousands of Internally Displaced Persons – held as human shields – came out of the zone of conflict. The challenge before Sri Lanka is to resettle the Internally Displaced Persons and take up the task of rehabilitating and reconstruction of Northern Sri Lanka.

India has tried to contribute whatever it can to alleviate to miseries and difficulties the people in Northern Province underwent. Initially we rushed food, clothing, medicines and other daily-use articles to the camps. Our emergency field hospital, first in Pulmoddai and later in Menik Farm, which treated more than fifty thousand patients and where Indian doctors carried out more than three thousand surgeries, was a symbol of our solidarity with those who had suffered the worst in the closing stages of the conflict. In recent months, we have extended a helping hand to those who are being resettled in their former places of habitation by providing roofing sheets and cement to help them build transitional shelters and agricultural toolkits to start minimal gardening activities.

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Remarks by Minister S.M. Krishna to the media after the Signing of Agreed Minutes of the Joint Commission PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Hon’ble Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs
Distinguished Members of the two delegations
Ladies & Gentlemen of the Media
Friends
 
I have just concluded very useful and productive discussions with Hon’ble Minister Peiris on the various items on the agenda of the seventh session of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission. Let me, at the very outset, express my sincere gratitude to Minister Peiris and his government for the warmth and gracious hospitality that has been extended to me and to my colleagues and the excellent arrangements made for my visit.
 
The Joint Commission discussions covered all areas of bilateral relevance, including trade, services and investment, development cooperation, science and technology, culture and education. The sheer breadth of our engagement today, as is reflected in the Joint Commission discussions, is testimony to the fact that our relations have greatly diversified with the passage of time. The visits of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2008 and His Excellency President Rajapaksa in June and October this year have undoubtedly given our relations a fillip. Our relations are poised to develop further in an all round manner.
 
Earlier this morning, I was honoured to meet His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa. We witnessed the signing of the credit agreement for $416.39 million for the Northern Railway construction project. I am also happy to announce that work on the Northern Railway Line will commence soon with the inauguration scheduled for tomorrow
 
Prof. Peiris and I have also just witnessed the exchange of Instruments of Ratification of the Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners and of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. This brings into effect these two important agreements between our two countries.
 
To build on the vibrant and multi-faceted partnership between our two countries, it is important that we leverage our common strategic interests, further enhance connectivity and economic engagement, and promote people-to-people contacts.  The opening of our Consulates in Hambantota and Jaffna, which will take place over today and tomorrow, is a significant milestone in this quest. In this connection, we also expect to resume ferry services between Colombo and Tuticorin and Talaimannar and Rameswaram soon, an agreement on which has been finalized.
 
The project for the construction of 50,000 houses for IDPs in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and also for estate workers in the Central Provinces will be an enduring symbol of India-Sri Lanka partnership. This morning, we witnessed an Exchange of Letters on the pilot phase of this project, which also took place in the presence of His Excellency President Rajapaksa. Tomorrow, through a ground-breaking ceremony in Jaffna, we will be signalling the commencement of this project.
 
The cessation of hostilities in Sri Lanka in May last year provides a historic opportunity to address all outstanding issues related to rehabilitation as well as a political settlement in a spirit of understanding and mutual accommodation. It is our hope that a structured dialogue mechanism to work towards this end will be launched soon. We have been assured that it is the intention of the Sri Lankan Government to resettle the Internally Displaced Persons by the end of this year.
 
I also took this opportunity to emphasise on the need to adhere to the October 2008 understanding on fishing arrangements arrived at between the two countries, which has had a salutary effect on the incidence of fishermen’s arrests and on their safety. We agreed that the joint Working Group on Fishing should meet soon.
 
With the tone that has been set in my discussions today, I have no doubt that India-Sri Lanka relations are poised the fully take advantage of the opportunities open before us. I have told Minister Peiris that I look forward to receiving him in New Delhi at his convenience to take forward our bilateral discussions.
 
Thank you.
 
Agreed Minutes of the 7th session of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail

November 26, 2010

 The seventh session of the Sri Lanka-India Joint Commission was held on 26th November 2010 in Colombo. It was co-chaired by His Excellency, Shri S.M. Krishna, Minister of External Affairs of India and Hon'ble G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka. The agreed agenda of the meeting is at Annexure-1. The lists of the Indian and Sri Lankan delegations are, respectively, at Annexure-2 and Annexure-3.

2. The discussions at the Joint Commission were marked by friendship, mutual respect and understanding. The two Ministers agreed that the shared cultural and civilizational heritage of India and Sri Lanka, the extensive people-to-people interaction and their common strategic concerns and interests provided the foundation to build a vibrant and multi-faceted partnership. India-Sri Lanka relations have diversified with the passage of time, encompassing all areas of contemporary relevance, including trade, services and investment, development cooperation, science and technology, culture and education. Today, with the end of armed conflict in Sri Lanka, these relations are poised to develop further in an all-round manner.

3. The Joint Commission reviewed developments in bilateral relations since the visit to India in June 2010 of His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and noted with satisfaction that the visit had laid a strong foundation for the future development of India-Sri Lanka relations. The Joint Statement issued during the visit embodies the vision of the two leaders for harnessing the enormous potential available for consolidating and strengthening the bilateral partnership. This can be achieved by building on shared values and principles of democracy and pluralism, leveraging common strategic concerns and interests, enhancing connectivity and economic engagement, and reinforcing institutional frameworks for a comprehensive partnership in all areas of bilateral endeavour. In this context, the two sides welcomed the opening of the Consulate General of India in Hambantota on 26 November and of the Consulate General of India in Jaffna on 27 November. The Ministers also reaffirmed the importance of the Joint Commission mechanism to monitor implementation of bilateral understandings.

ECONOMIC & DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION, TRADE, FINANCE & INVESTMENT

4. The Joint Commission reiterated the need to substantially enhance the range and depth of the India-Sri Lanka bilateral relationship through greater economic integration to achieve the shared goals of alleviating poverty, creating wealth and bringing about progress and prosperity for the people of the two countries. The meeting noted with satisfaction that bilateral trade, despite the downturn in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown, has shown a healthy recovery in 2010. The two sides reviewed investment proposals being considered by companies in both countries and expressed satisfaction at the growing interest of Indian and Sri Lankan companies to invest further in each other's markets. In this context, the two sides agreed to cooperate closely to nurture a favourable environment to forge closer economic and trade linkages.

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