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India-Lanka hail excellent ties

President briefs Indian PM on search for settlement, battle against terror:

Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has commended the excellent relations between India and Sri Lanka during an hour-long meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa in New Delhi.

President Rajapaksa was on an official visit to India and addressed the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Saturday.

Both leaders observed that it was necessary to keep working to ensure continued good relations and understanding between the two countries on all fronts.

At the meeting with Dr. Singh at the Prime Minister’s official residence, there was a warm exchange of views on the present state of Indo-Sri Lanka relations and current development impacting on these relations between the two countries, the President’s Office said.

President Rajapaksa told the Indian Premier of the situation in Sri Lanka, especially with regard to the search for a political solution to the ethnic issue and the battle against terrorism.

The Indian leader was also briefed on the Government’s programme for development of the Eastern Province for economic progress and the advance of democracy.

The Indian Prime Minister said India was ready to strengthen the links between the two countries and build on the multi-faceted nature of the relationship.

He also referred to continued understanding and cooperation between Sri Lanka and India on matters of security and political affairs.

In his inaugural address to the Leadership Summit Prime Minister Singh said: “Let there be no mistake about our resolve to meet the challenges the challenge of terrorism head on... We have to mobilize all our resources and will power for continued defeat of the terrorist machinery.”

At the meeting with Congress Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the discussions were centred on the new developments in the Eastern Province and efforts to defeat terrorism in the country.

The Congress leader was apprised of the new development programme in areas cleared of the LTTE and the moves taken to make the East a model for development of a hitherto politically disadvantaged region.

Gandhi said it was encouraging to know of the steps being taken to obtain a political solution to the crisis in Sri Lanka, and of the loss of a recruiting base for the LTTE in the East, particularly the recruitment of child soldiers. She stressed on the need to strengthen to good relations between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona, and High Commissioner Romesh Jayasinghe and India’s National Security Advisor M. K. Narayan and External Affairs Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon were present at President Rajapaksa’s meeting with Dr. Singh.

Foreign Minister Bogollagama, Secretary to the President and the Foreign Secretary were associated with the President during discussions with Gandhi.

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