November 20, 2018

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    Lankans should decide on PM – Indian Foreign Secretary

    November 05, 2018

    Days after former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, India a strong ally of Sri Lanka in its first official statement said they are willing to work with any Prime Minister in the best interest of both countries.

    In response to queries regarding the recent developments in Sri Lanka, the official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that “India is closely following the recent political developments in Sri Lanka. As a democracy and a close friendly neighbour, we hope that democratic values and the constitutional process will be respected. We will continue to extend our developmental assistance to the friendly people of Sri Lanka.”

    Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale who met with journalists at the South Block in New Delhi said that India was not promoting any particular person and that it was for the people of Sri Lanka to decide on whether the Prime Minister would be former President Mahinda Rajapaksa or Ranil Wickremesinghe.

    During this meeting he had also rejected allegations that India was tampering with the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.

    However, Janata Party Leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy who was instrumental in arranging for the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to meet with Indian Premier Narendra Modi and other officials said that he would work hard to ensure friendship and cooperation between India and Sri Lanka. He added that President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi were people’s leaders and they understood the pulse of the people.

    Indian officials who are in talks with Sri Lanka over proposed and ongoing Indian projects said that the current political situation has no bearing on the trade relations. Officials told the sister publication Sunday Observer that talks on upgrading the Free Trade Agreement into the Proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and the Cooperation on Infrastructure Development Projects was processing well and are about to be concluded satisfactorily.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting with Ranil Wickremesinghe in October this year, had expressed concerns at the ‘slow’ progress of the Indian funded projects in the country. According to a press release issued by the Indian ministry of external affairs, the main item on the agenda was a review of the “progress” in Indian projects.

    Unlike the MEA press release, a statement from the former Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s Office indicated that Modi had expressed dissatisfaction with the “slow pace” of implementation of Indian projects in Sri Lanka.

     

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