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."