India-Sri Lanka Joint Statement
Joint Press Statement, Visit of Her Excellency, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to India, June 2-4, 2005
1. Her Excellency, Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, President of Sri Lanka, paid a working visit to India from June 2-4, 2005.
2. The President of Sri Lanka held cordial, wide-ranging discussions with the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. The discussions were substantive and covered the gamut of bilateral relations between the two countries, post-tsunami reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka, and regional and international issues.
3. The President of Sri Lanka met with Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the UPA. Shri P. Chidambaram, Minister of Finance, and Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Minister of Panchayati Raj, called on the President of Sri Lanka.
4. The two leaders noted that the forthcoming visit of the Indian External Affairs Minister for the sixth meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission on June 10, 2005 in Colombo will provide a further impetus to bilateral cooperation.
5. During the discussions between the President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India, both sides expressed their satisfaction with the excellent state of bilateral cooperation in diverse areas. On the subject of economic cooperation, they noted that bilateral trade recorded a volume of US$ 1.8 billion in 2004 with the trade imbalance between the two countries having narrowed significantly. Taking stock of the encouraging progress on negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), the two leaders directed that the negotiations on the CEPA be concluded by the end of 2005 so as to give a new thrust to overall bilateral business activity as well as to encourage investments in several areas of mutual interest and thereby strengthen the partnership in economic development between the two countries.
6. The President of Sri Lanka thanked the Prime Minister and the Government and people of India for the generous assistance sent to Sri Lanka immediately after the tsunami and for the further aid pledged. The Prime Minister of India reiterated that India remains committed to assist Sri Lanka’s remarkable efforts to recover from the tragedy of the tsunami of December 2004. Indian assistance would consist of a grant of Rs. 100 crores for relief and reconstruction projects, a moratorium on debt repayments for three years, as well as the factoring of post-tsunami reconstruction priorities into existing and proposed lines of credit.
7. The President conveyed to the Prime Minister her commitment to ensure the full participation of all communities in the country to ensure the delivery of relief and reconstruction assistance to those affected by Tsunami. In this context, she apprised the Prime Minister of her efforts to establish a Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS) for coordinating relief and reconstruction in areas affected by the Tsunami. The Prime Minister expressed understanding of and support for these ongoing efforts.
8. The President of Sri Lanka briefed the Prime Minister on the current status of the peace process in Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister reiterated India’s support for the process of seeking a comprehensive, negotiated settlement acceptable to all communities, and reflecting the pluralistic nature of Sri Lankan society, within the framework of a united and democratic Sri Lanka.
9. They emphasized the need for the early resumption of negotiations in the peace process that will lead to a durable political solution that maintains the unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, and guarantees the fundamental rights of all individuals while ensuring the safety and prosperity of the people.
10. In their discussions on the peace process, concern was expressed over ceasefire violations. Particular concern was expressed over the illegal acquisition of air capability.
11. The Prime Minister of India stated that India maintains an abiding interest in the security of Sri Lanka and remains committed to its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
12. With regard to the Sethusamudram Canal Project, it was agreed that the exchange of views between the Indian and Sri Lankan technical experts should continue. This would be with regard to environmental concerns and prospects of closer economic cooperation between the two countries in the Palk Bay area.
13. The discussions between the two leaders reflected a large measure of convergence of views between the two countries on a number of international issues, including reform of the United Nations, the elimination of terrorism, SAARC, and regional cooperation.
14. The President of Sri Lanka stated that her Government and people looked forward to the visit of the Prime Minister of India to their country at an early, mutually convenient date. The Prime Minister said that he looked forward to visiting Sri Lanka stating that he attached the highest importance to the furtherance and strengthening of India-Sri Lanka relations.
June 3, 2005
Source: Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi.