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India briefed on post – war reconciliation - Foreign Secretary

Sri Lanka briefed India about the progress it has achieved in the areas of post-war reconciliation and the implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission(LLRC) report during the eighth meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission, which was held in Delihi last week, External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunathilaka Amunugama yesterday said returning to Colombo after the meeting.

He said Sri Lanka-India Joint Commission will be the apex body to discuss or review matters between the two countries and India has agreed to find collective solutions to various matters, be it political, educational, economic or otherwise during the Joint Commission meeting.

‘Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Shri Salman Khurshid have expressed satisfaction -- and solidarity with Sri Lanka, - Amunugama said.

External Affairs Ministers of Sri Lanka and India,Prof G L Peiris and Shri Salman Khurshid, who co-chaired the meeting discussed at length the entire spectrum of bilateral relations between the two countries. “Both sides agreed to meet regularly with a view to enhance tourism, people-people relations, co-operation in fisheries, agriculture, health, education, power, technology sharing , economic and trade co-operation among other things,” he said.

The Joint Commission took note to work for the finalization of a memorandum of understanding for cooperation on the “Ten Year Presidential Initiative to Steer Sri Lanka towards a Trilingual Society by 2020”.

Asked if India had raised any concerns about the 13th amendment, Amunugama said, “ the state officials of India did not raise any concerns about the 13th amendment, but Indian media did.” At a press conference held after the Joint Commission meeting, External Affairs Minister Prof G L Peiris explained to them that the 13th Amendment is already law in Sri Lanka and that the government is a coalition government and there are various views expressed by various coalition parties about the Amendment.

“Prof Peiris told them that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee represented by all political parties to find a workable solution to various disagreements that have manifested around it,” he said.

“We explained to them that President Rajapaksa has pronounced his commitment to enforce such a solution and that the Parliamentary Select Committee has been mandated to arrive at a resolution within six months,” said Amunugama.

Prof G L Peiris apprised them how the PSC process to reach a political consensus regarding the matter was being dragged as a result of non participation of the members of the Tamil National Alliance to the Committee.

He said, India has been made aware by Prof G L Peiris about various anti-government elements trying to cause unrest in the country with disinformation campaigns. Amunugama said he did not know why certain media establishments are prone to carry articles carrying negative views about the country whenever they learn that some state officials from another country plan to visit Colombo.

“For example, the news about forthcoming visits by US state officials to the country and the much anticipated visit by UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navaneetham Pillay has been presented to the public with a negative tone as if the country will receive a negative impact on account of these visits,” he said.

“The US state officials visit the country to interact with us as they would do with other countries. They will also visit some other countries in South East Asia. Besides, it is good that they visit Sri Lanka because they can see for themselves the real situation and what is happening in Sri Lanka.” “We have nothing to hide in Sri Lanka,” he added.

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