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    Sri Lanka assures safety of Maldivians Featured

    June 27, 2014

    The Sri Lankan government on Thursday said that Maldivians residing in the country will not face any danger from the anti-Muslim riots in the country and that it was "conscious" of the safety of Maldivians.

    At a joint press conference with Maldivian foreign minister Dunya Maumoon, Sri Lankan external affairs minister GL Peiris, who is accompanying Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on a two-day state visit to Maldives, said that the 9000 plus Maldivian community in Sri Lanka lived a contended and safe life. He said that no violence have been observed from Dehiwela and Mount Lavinia - areas where most Maldivians are settled in.

    "Absolutely no incident has happened in these areas. The incident was very localised. No Maldivians have been affected due to those incidents," the minister said, stressing on how Sri Lankan Muslims and Buddists have lived in harmony for centuries.

    Despite the Sri Lankan minister's comments, hardline Buddhists have attacked Muslim-owned shops and mosques in Dehiwela and nearby areas. But no one has been injured in these attacks.

    Maldivian foreign minister Dunya said that Maldivians have the Sri Lankan government's word on their safety and that her ministry was monitoring the situation closely via the high commission in Sri Lankan capital Colombo. But she admitted that rumours on social media and some media reports have panicked some Maldivians in Sri Lanka.

    "I'm not saying that there are no serious issues. But our foreign ministry is constantly in touch with the high commissioner Zahiya in Colombo, contacting locals there and assessing the situation," the minister said.

    "We're confident that the Sri Lanka will soon be able to overcome the challenges arising from the tensions that flares up between Muslims and Buddhists in some parts of Sri Lanka in the recent weeks. Peace and stability is vital for any country or community."

    Dunya also noted that the Maldives recognises the strength and speed of Sri Lanka's recovery from the 30-year old civil war, which ended in 2009. that had raged, exuding assurance and confidence on the country’s complete recovery from this war.

    President Rajapaksa arrived in the Maldives Wednesday afternoon on a two-day state visit. He had met with President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on Wednesday, and held official talks with President Yameen and his government.

    Meanwhile, the Maldives and Sri Lanka on Wednesday signed three agreements aimed at further strengthening the bilateral cooperation between the two neighbouring countries. (HC)

    Courtesy: Haveeru/Ali Naafiz/Photo: Mohamed Sajid

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