I am pleased to welcome President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his delegation to India. I heartily congratulate the President for his decisive victory in the election. I congratulate the people of Sri Lanka for the smooth election process.
The strength and maturity of democracy in Sri Lanka is a matter of great pride and joy.
It is an honor for us that President Rajapaksa chose India for his first foreign visit and gave us a chance to welcome him in India within two weeks of assuming office. It symbolizes the strength and dynamism of friendly relations between India and Sri Lanka.
It is also a sign of how much importance both countries attach to these relations. We look forward to working closely with President Rajapaksa for the progress of both countries and peace, prosperity and security in our entire common region.
The mandate that you have received expresses the aspirations of the Sri Lankan people for an organized, strong and prosperous Sri Lanka. In this regard, India’s good wishes and cooperation are always with Sri Lanka.
A stable, secure and prosperous Sri Lanka is not only in India’s interest but also in the interest of the entire Indian Ocean Region.
India is Sri Lanka’s closest maritime neighbor and a trusted friend. Our historical, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and civilizational contacts are a strong foundation of close relations between the two countries.
In line with my Government’s “Neighborhood First” policy and SAGAR doctrine, we prioritize our relations with Sri Lanka. The security and development of our two countries are inseparable. Therefore, it is natural that we should be aware of each other’s safety and sensibilities.
Today the President and myself had a very good and fruitful discussion on bilateral relations and international affairs of mutual interest. We have decided that together we will strengthen the multi-faceted partnership and cooperation between the two countries.
I have assured the President of India’s commitment to a development partnership with Sri Lanka. As always, this cooperation will be in accordance with the priorities of the people of Sri Lanka. A new $ 400 million line of credit will give a boost to infrastructure and development in Sri Lanka. I am confident that the Sri Lankan economy will benefit as well as this Line of Credit will also accelerate the Project Cooperation of mutual benefit between the two countries.
We are delighted that under the Indian Housing Project, 46,000 houses have been constructed for the internally displaced in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. There is good progress in the construction of 14,000 houses for Tamils of Indian origin in the Up-Country region.
I am also pleased that we have agreed to use the previously announced $ 100 million credit line for solar projects in Sri Lanka early. There was a good discussion between President and me on 20 community development projects and other people-centric projects issued by India in Sri Lanka on the basis of grants in education and infrastructure.
India has always opposed terrorism in all its forms and also expected action from the international community against other forms of terrorism, including cross-border terrorism. On the occasion of Easter this year, terrorists in Sri Lanka launched brutal attacks on the diversity of mankind and the valuable heritage of symbiosis.
I went to Sri Lanka immediately after the elections in India to express India’s unwavering support in the Sri Lankan fight against terrorist and extremist forces. I have discussed in detail with the President Rajapaksa for mutual security and to further strengthen mutual cooperation against terrorism.
Sri Lankan police officers in major Indian institutions are already receiving the benefit of counter terrorist training. I am happy to announce a special Line of Credit of 50 million dollars to Sri Lanka to combat terrorism.
Issues affecting the livelihood of fishermen were also discussed. We agreed that we will continue with a constructive and humane approach in this matter.
We also openly exchanged views on reconciliation in Sri Lanka. President Rajapaksa told me about his inclusive political outlook on ethnic harmony.
I am confident that the Government of Sri Lanka will carry forward the process of reconciliation, to fulfill the aspirations of the Tamils for equality, justice, peace and respect. It also includes the implementation of the 13th amendment. India will become a trusted partner for development throughout Sri Lanka including North and East.
I once again welcome President Rajapaksa to India. His visit will strengthen our mutual relations. And our cooperation will promote development in both countries and prosperity, peace and stability in the region.