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Govt firmly on path to political solution - President

'Will deal militarily with LTTE':

For over two decades, Sri Lanka has been facing a tremendous challenge to our democratic way of life through the barbaric actions of a terrorist group, the LTTE. There is no doubt that such groups have to be dealt with militarily.

At the same time Sri Lanka believes that any underlying causes, exploited by the terrorists in an attempt to seek legitimacy for their operations, should be dealt with politically. I wish to assure that we are firmly on the path to a political solution, President Rajapaksa told the 2nd Summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) yesterday.

"Sri Lanka wholeheartedly supports the BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking as an important and vital milestone in our efforts on counter terrorism," said President Rajapaksa.

"Terrorist groups are able to sustain themselves by illegal fund-raising, narcotics and people trafficking, money laundering using international networks, and arms and ammunition smuggling including through the sea routes in the Bay of Bengal. I urge you to consider setting up a mechanism to effectively police the seas of the Bay of Bengal, to deny these terrorists mobility and connectivity," the President told the BIMSTEC leaders.

"While the BIMSTEC nations have constructively and prudently engaged in the process of globalisation, nevertheless the economic challenges faced by many of our major trading partners, will inevitably have some impact on our own pace of growth.The situation has therefore made all of us very much aware of the protection that regional self-reliance can afford, against global economic uncertainties," he said.

He said: "The alleviation of poverty forms one of the core objectives of my government. After three years of active implementation, a majority of the proposals contained in the' Mahinda Chintana' which is my election manifesto, have delivered many benefits to my people. A number of poverty alleviation programmes, both direct and indirect, indeed have proved to be success stories, and have empowered the rural people. Sri Lanka will continue to share her experiences in this field with the other Member States, while contributing wholeheartedly to the collective effort against poverty. The promotion of trade among us is an important means for regional development and growth. The operationalization of the BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement, has despite our best efforts been delayed. Nevertheless, we are all looking forward to the timely finalisation of an Agreement that provides for all Members equitable benefits. We are pleased that Sri Lanka had been unanimously elected to continue as the Chair of the Trade Negotiating Committee. It is in our collective interest to pursue initiatives to promote inter and intra-regional tourism. The move to establish a Tourism Information Centre and very importantly, a Tourism Fund is commendable.

We should also seriously consider the joint marketing of the BIMSTEC region as one destination."

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