National Security Adviser holds talks with Lankan leadership in Colombo

New Delhi, July 9 (ANI): National Security Adviser, Shivshankar Menon, visited Colombo for two days beginning yesterday to participate in the 2nd NSA-level meeting on trilateral cooperation on maritime security between India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

The Governments of India, Sri Lanka and Maldives have been engaged in trilateral discussions to address the common maritime challenges in the Indian Ocean region.

Following the meeting yesterday, the three-side agreed on a roadmap for future cooperation in maritime security. In this context, they signed an Outcome Document outlining further collaborative measures in the areas ofinter alia Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA); strengthening coordination of maritime Search and Rescue (SAR); promoting marine oil pollution response cooperation; expanding 'DOSTI' (friendship) exercises;sharing of information on illegal maritime activities; and piracy.

The next NSA-level meeting on trilateral cooperation on maritime security between India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives will take place in New Delhi at a mutually convenient time.

During his visit, the National Security Adviser called on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and also held bilateral meetings with Minister for Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka.

In these meetings, both sides reviewed the progress in bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on areas of common concern. They expressed satisfaction on the progress in implementation of the Indian-assisted projects for relief, rehabilitation and resettlement of IDPs, including the Housing Project, as well as projects relating to the development of railway infrastructure in the Northern and Southern Provinces.

They also discussed the fishermen issue and agreed on the need to deal with it in a humane manner without resorting to violence under any circumstances. They agreed that fishermen's associations on both sides, which had met in the past and reached some understandings, needed to meet again to work on developing this further. This could then serve as the basis for finding a solution to this humanitarian issue.

The National Security Adviser conveyed to the Sri Lankan leadership the Government of India's views on the recent political developments, and called for early political settlement and national reconciliation through the meaningful devolution of power so to ensure that all citizens of Sri Lanka, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, would lead a life marked by equality, justice, dignity and self-respect.

In this context, he also emphasized the need for adhering to the commitments made by the Sri Lankan Government to India and the International Community on a political settlement in Sri Lanka that would go beyond the 13th Amendment.

He also expressed the hope that elections to the Northern Provincial Council would be held in a free, fair and credible manner.

The National Security Adviser also met with other political leaders, including Leader of the Opposition and Chairperson of UNP Ranil Wikremesinghe, Chairperson of SLMC and Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem and a delegation of Tamil National Alliance led by R. Sampanthan. (ANI)

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