|Foreign Minister underscores Sri Lanka’s friendship with India|
|Tuesday, 04 November 2008 11:06|
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has highlighted the strong bonds of friendship and trust that the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has forged with the political leadership of India, as a manifestation of the longstanding historical ties between India and Sri Lanka. The Minister made this observation in the course of a Statement in Parliament today (04 November 2008) in response to a question raised by UNP Parliamentarian Hon. Joseph Michael Perera under Standing Order 23.2, regarding the recent visit of Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, MP., Senior Advisor to the President, as the Special Envoy of the President to New Delhi.
Minister Bogollagama elaborating further, stated that the successful outcome of Mr. Rajapaksa’s visit has been most reassuring for the peoples of India and Sri Lanka, and all those friends and well wishers who desire lasting peace in Sri Lanka. He tabled the two official communiqués issued jointly by India and Sri Lanka on 26th October in New Delhi, at the conclusion of Mr. Rajapaksa’s visit, namely the (a) India-Sri Lanka Joint Press Release and (b) India–Sri Lanka Joint Statement on Fishing Arrangements.
Implicitly criticizing interested parties who were attempting to impute an ulterior motive to the Indian Government for the offer of 800 tonnes of relief material for civilians caught up in the conflict in the North, the Minister emphasized that India has come forward with this humanitarian assistance, as a goodwill gesture, which reflects the friendship and spirit of good neighbourlines between the two countries. He cautioned the general public not to be misguided by the mischievous construction given to this noble gesture of goodwill by India.
The Minister recalled the financial grants that Sri Lanka had given Myanmar and Nepal in recent times, when the two countries had experienced natural disasters. He also referred to the despatch of relief material, which included tents, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment worth US$ 1.5 million for the survivors of the massive earthquake disaster which struck the Sichuan Province in China on 12th May, which had been greatly appreciated by the Government and the people of China.
Similarly, Sri Lanka had also made a cash donation of US$ 50,000/- as humanitarian relief for victims of the severe floods which inundated large parts of the Indian State of Bihar in September this year. On the occasion of handing over the cheque for this amount by the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Resident Commissioner of Bihar on 12th September in New Delhi, the High Commissioner had referred to the letter that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had sent Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, in which the President had recalled that the State of Bihar occupied a special place in the hearts of Sri Lankan Buddhists, since tens of thousands of Buddhist pilgrims visit the State annually to pay homage to the sacred land, where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.
Minister Bogollagama strongly refuted media speculation of any secret deals with India. He hailed the excellent understanding that the Government has with the Indian Government in its efforts to defeat terrorism and restore democracy to the North.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
04 November 2008