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Modi seeks dignity for Lankan Tamils

Modi seeks dignity for Lankan Tamils
In a top-level visit that came after 28 years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday reached out to Sri Lanka saying the security of the two countries is “indivisible” and favoured a life of equality, justice and dignity for Tamils in its “new journey” of peace and reconciliation.

The first Prime Minister to visit the island after Rajiv Gandhi’s trip in 1987 after which the bilateral relationship had undergone several twists and turns, he said the two nations should build a climate of trust and confidence while remaining sensitive to each other’s interests.

Modi met President Maithripala Sirisena and expressed his “admiration” for his efforts to build an inclusive future for Sri Lanka. However, he made it clear that “unity and integrity” of Sri Lanka, which fought a three decades war with the LTTE over its demand for a separate Tamil Eelam, “are paramount” for India.

“It is rooted in our interest. It stems from our own fundamental beliefs in this principle,” he declared in his address to Sri Lankan Parliament. The Prime Minister said a future of prosperity required a strong foundation of security for the two countries and peace and stability in the region. “The security of our two countries is indivisible. Equally, our shared responsibility for our maritime neighbourhood is clear,” Modi said. “India and Sri Lanka are too close to look away from each other. Nor can we be insulated from one another,” he said.

Maintaining that the Indian Ocean is critical to the security and prosperity of the two countries, the Prime Minister said, “we can be more successful in achieving these goals if work together; build a climate of trust and confidence; and, remain sensitive to each other’s interest.

“We deeply value our security cooperation with Sri Lanka. We should expand the maritime security cooperation between India, Sri Lanka and Maldives to include others in the Indian Ocean area. He said the two countries were at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean. The partnership will be vital for building a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous maritime neighbourhood.

The two leaders met at delegation level after which four agreements that included easing of visa regulations were signed. Reflecting their desire to give a push to their economic ties, the two countries also took steps to simplify trade and reduce non-tariff barriers on both sides under an agreement on customs cooperation.

M Post Bureau

M Post Bureau

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