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Rajapaksa to hold talks with Manmohan in Bhutan

[Hindu, Monday, 26 April 2010 07:17 No Comment]

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa will hold bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the SAARC summit scheduled in Bhutan on April 28 and 29.

This would be the first meeting between Mr. Rajapaksa and Dr. Singh after the re-election of the former in the January 26 Presidential polls. The Sri Lankan President is also scheduled to make an official visit to India sometime in May.

In his first interaction with the media, G.L. Pieris, the newly-appointed External Affairs Minister, said the meeting would provide an opportunity to exchange views on a whole range of issues of mutual interest to India and Sri Lanka.

Professor Pieris said the President would outline to the Prime Minister various steps taken by his government recently and measures contemplated in the future. Though the Minister did not mention any specific topic, the reference was to matters pertaining to re-settlement of the nearly three lakh war displaced Tamil civilians.

Professor Pieris noted that India was Sri Lanka’s ‘closest neighbour and ally’ and the President would give a close ear to any concerns that Dr. Singh might have on Colombo. Responding to the concerns of the human rights issues of the international community, the Minister said that in the coming months Sri Lanka would reach out to them and clarify its position. The government would come out with a ‘series of initiatives’ which would be of interest to the world at large.

Mr. Rajapaksa was expected to hold discussions with heads of other countries as well. Mr. Pieris said the effort of the SAARC leaders would be to make it truly people-centric and there would be an effort by member-states to pool their resources for the benefit of the people of the region.

The Minister said Sri Lanka’s successful defeat of terrorism and the resounding mandate the people had given to President Rajapaksa, both at the presidential and the general elections, must be seen as a way forward, and a unique opportunity for economic development.

[Full Coverage]

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