NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urged visiting Sri Lankan premier Mahinda Rajapaksa to empower the minority Tamil community in the island nation and fulfil their aspirations for justice, respect, and equality.“We held a discussion with an open mind on issues relating to reconciliation in Sri Lanka. I am confident that the government of Sri Lanka will fulfil the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace, and respect within a United Sri Lanka,” Modi said at a joint press briefing.
He told the visiting delegation that implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, which safeguards the rights of the Tamil community, was necessary to take the reconciliation process forward. The two leaders spoke on a variety of topics ranging from mutual defence partnership and joint anti-terror programmes to cooperation on development and in solving fishermen’s issues.
During talks, Rajapaksa expressed Lanka’s gratitude to India for helping the country in its fight against terrorism. “India is our closest neighbour and a long-standing friend. The close historical links have provided a solid foundation to our ties,” Rajapaksa said.In the wake of last year’s Easter Day bombings in Colombo, New Delhi had announced financial assistance of $50 million to help the island nation in its fight against terrorism.
Rajapaksa’s visit to India is being closely watched by foreign policy specialists. During his term as president between 2005 and 2016, Lanka grew closer to China.Rajapaksa, like his brother President Gotabaya, chose India to be the destination for his first foreign tour after assuming power in November.
Rajapaksa meets Kovind
Rajapaksa also called on Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and President Ram Nath Kovind. He will leave for Varanasi on Sunday and then proceed to Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Tirupati before departing for Colombo