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India-Lanka ferry services to be re-established

[Express Buzz, Thursday, 10 June 2010 07:59 No Comment]

Taking a step back in time, India and Sri Lanka on Wednesday agreed to reestablish ferry services between them.

Ferry links were cut off as Sri Lanka got embroiled in its long war with the Liberation Tigers of Tami Eelam. Instead of peacetime travel, Tamil refugees made dangerous crossings of the Palk Strait. But the talk about resuming the boat services revived after the war ended a year back. It even figured at a meeting of SAARC transport ministers.

In the joint declaration adopted after a meeting between visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the two sides agreed to restore the "traditional links” by resuming ferry services between Colombo and Tuticorin and Talaimannar and Rameswaram. India has also agreed to help restore rail links in Sri Lanka.

Getting Indian visas will become easier with consulates opening in Jaffna and Hambantota in the Sinhalese South. The Palk Strait will be the scene of attempted cooperation in other ways as well.

Rajapaksa suggested joint exploration for oil. And Delhi and Colombo will promote contacts between associations of fishermen from the two countries, and "practical arrangements” will be put in place.

The Indian Navy chief will visit Colombo soon. The two countries also plan to institute an annual Defence dialogue. More Lankan military personnel will be trained in Indian institutions.

The two sides signed an agreement on cultural contacts in the coming years. The 2600th year of the attainment of Enlightenment by Lord Buddha will be commemorated jointly. The Indian Council of Cultural Relations will support an international Buddhist Conference in Kandy this year.

[Full Coverage]

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