A joint declaration was issued on Wednesday on the State Visit of the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, to India from 8th – 11th June 2010 on the invitation of the President of India, Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil.
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2nd R) shakes hands with Shiranthi (2nd L), wife of Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as Indian President Pratibha Patil (R) and her Sri Lankan counterpart Rajapaksa watch during the ceremonial reception at the presidential palace in New Delhi June 9, 2010 ~ pic courtesy: Reuters
Following is the Text of the Joint Declaration:
1. At the invitation of the President of India, Smt. Prathiba Devisingh Patil, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, is paying a State Visit to India from 8th – 11th June 2010. The President is accompanied by Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapaksa.
2. The President of Sri Lanka was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapathi Bhavan on 9th June 2010. During the visit, the President of Sri Lanka was received by the President of India, who hosted a banquet in his honour.
3. Finance Minister Shri. Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister Shri. S.M. Krishna, Leader of Opposition Smt. Sushma Swaraj and Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance Smt. Sonia Gandhi called on President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa.
4. The President of Sri Lanka had a meeting with the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on 9th June 2010, which was followed by delegation level talks.
5. The official discussions between the two sides were marked by friendship, mutual respect and understanding. The President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India agreed that the shared cultural and civilizational heritage of India and Sri Lanka and the extensive people-to-people interaction provided the foundation to build a vibrant and multi-faceted partnership. India-Sri Lanka relations have matured and diversified with the passage of time, encompassing all areas of contemporary relevance, including trade, services and investment, development cooperation, science and technology, culture and education.
6. In consonance with their vision of the future of the India-Sri Lanka relations, the two leaders agreed to further harness the enormous potential available for consolidating and strengthening the bilateral partnership by building on shared values and principles of democracy and pluralism, leveraging common strategic concerns and interests, enhancing connectivity between the two countries, increasing the integration of their economies, and reinforcing the institutional framework for cooperation.
7. The Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, congratulated the President of Sri Lanka, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, on his recent electoral victories and conveyed that the recent elections, together with the cessation of hostilities in Sri Lanka in May 2009, provided a historic opportunity for the country's leaders to address all outstanding issues in a spirit of understanding and mutual accommodation and to work towards genuine national reconciliation. The Prime Minister emphasised that a meaningful devolution package, building upon the 13th Amendment, would create the necessary conditions for a lasting political settlement. The President of Sri Lanka reiterated his determination to evolve a political settlement acceptable to all communities that would act as a catalyst to create the necessary conditions in which all the people of Sri Lanka could lead their lives in an atmosphere of peace, justice and dignity, consistent with democracy, pluralism, equal opportunity and respect for human rights. Towards this end, the President expressed his resolve to continue to implement in particular the relevant provisions of the Constitution designed to strengthen national amity and reconciliation through empowerment. In this context, he shared his ideas on conducting a broader dialogue with all parties involved. The Prime Minister of India expressed India’s constructive support for efforts that build peace and reconciliation among all communities in Sri Lanka.
8. The President of Sri Lanka expressed appreciation for India's substantial and generous assistance including through a grant of Indian Rupees 500 crore for the humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). He noted that the steps taken by India for humanitarian assistance, including supply of family packs of food and clothing, medicines, setting up of a field hospital and an artificial limb fitment camp and for the resettlement of IDPs, including provision of shelter material, cement bags and agricultural implements and deployment of de-mining teams, were important and timely.
9. The Prime Minister of India was apprised on the measures taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to bring about a rapid and sustainable resettlement of the bulk of the IDPs. It was stated that the process of resettling the limited number still remaining in the transit facilities would be further expedited. Both leaders agreed on the urgent need for the resettlement of the remaining IDPs, along with speedy rehabilitation, reconstruction and development in the North and the East of Sri Lanka. They agreed to work closely towards this end. In this context, India’s assistance to rebuild infrastructure, including railway infrastructure, set up several Vocational Training Centres, repair and construct schools, houses, stadium and recreational facilities, supply much-needed inputs for agricultural regeneration and undertake several other projects was greatly appreciated.
10. Both leaders announced a major initiative to undertake a programme of construction of 50,000 houses for Internally Displaced Persons in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The President of Sri Lanka warmly welcomed the offer of Indian support for this programme.
11. With regard to the task of reconstruction in northern Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister of India reiterated India’s support for various infrastructure projects. In this regard, the two leaders witnessed the signing of the contract for the reconstruction of the Madu-Talaimannar railway line by IRCON. The contract for the Medawachchiya-Madu segment of the track will be signed shortly. It was also noted that the contract for the reconstruction of the Omanthai-Pallai segment of the railway track by IRCON has already been signed. The two leaders directed that the contracts for the construction of a new signalling and tele-communication network by IRCON, and for the reconstruction of the Pallai-KKS railway line, which will be undertaken by the Sri Lanka Railway in collaboration with IRCON, also be concluded at the earliest. The work on all these construction projects will commence latest by October 2010. It was also noted that the procurement of rolling stock from India would take place in a phased manner. The Prime Minister of India and the President of Sri Lanka directed that a Steering Committee be established to oversee and facilitate the timely and successful completion of the contracted work.
12. The President of Sri Lanka expressed his appreciation for the generous and concessionary credit facilities amounting to about US$ 800 million offered by India for the railway projects in Sri Lanka. The two leaders directed that the relevant agreements on the lines of credit for requisite amounts be concluded within two months, so that there is no delay in the commencement of the projects.
13. In addition, with a view to restoring physical and cultural infrastructure and promoting normalcy in northern Sri Lanka, it was also agreed that India would extend assistance for the rehabilitation of Palaly Airport and Kankesanthurai Harbour as also help in renovating the Duraiappah Stadium and constructing a Cultural Centre in Jaffna.
14. Both leaders welcomed the involvement of Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in addressing the issue of rehabilitation of war widows and witnessed the signing of the MoU on Setting Up of Women’s Trade Facilitation Centre and Community Learning Centre at Batticaloa.
15. Both leaders expressed satisfaction at the progress of work on the Colombo-Matara railway line being constructed with Indian assistance, and directed that the project be completed in a timely manner.
16. The two leaders witnessed the signing of the MoU on Small Development Project Scheme.
17. The Prime Minister of India and the President of Sri Lanka reiterated their mutual commitment to substantially enhance the range and depth of the India-Sri Lanka bilateral relationship including through greater economic integration, enhancing connectivity and other linkages and closer developmental cooperation.
18. In this context, both leaders agreed to revive the Joint Commission mechanism and hold the next meeting of the Joint Commission, co-chaired by the two Ministers of External Affairs, in the second half of 2010 in order to devise a fuller agenda of bilateral cooperation in various fields.
19. Both leaders agreed to promote dialogue on security and defence issues of relevance to their bilateral relationship, and enhance high-level military exchanges and training of military personnel as well as impart additional training in Indian institutions for the newly recruited police personnel. They agreed to institute an annual defence dialogue between the two governments.
20. Both leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They also agreed to strengthen the security and legal framework of their bilateral relationship. To this end, the leaders witnessed the signing of the following Agreements:
i. Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters; and
ii. Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners.
21. Both leaders underlined their desire for closer economic integration to achieve the shared goals of alleviating poverty, creating wealth and bringing about progress and prosperity for the people of the two countries. In this context, they agreed to cooperate closely to nurture a favourable environment to forge closer economic and trade linkages.
22. Both leaders expressed satisfaction that bilateral trade, despite the downturn in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown, was already beginning to show a healthy recovery.
23. Recognizing the considerable benefits from greater economic cooperation between the two countries, the two Leaders noted the progress achieved under the India – Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement. They agreed that it would be timely to build on this achievement through a more comprehensive framework of economic cooperation, best suited to the two countries. In this context, they directed the concerned officials of the two countries to hold intensive consultations towards developing a framework for sustainable economic partnership between the two countries and addressing outstanding issues.
24. The two leaders also agreed to launch a CEOs Forum to involve the public and private sectors in a dialogue to generate ideas to deepen and broaden the bilateral economic relationship in all its aspects and to help chart the future course of business and trade interaction between the two countries.
25. The Prime Minister of India and the President of Sri Lanka agreed that there was great potential for the further and rapid expansion of bilateral agricultural cooperation and collaboration in livestock development between the two countries. They noted that the MoU for Scientific and Technical cooperation between the Indian Council of Agriculture Research and the Sri Lanka Council for Agriculture Research Policy had yielded sound results, including in human resource development. They agreed that collaborative research and development programmes in areas such as livestock, biotechnology, the design and manufacture of agricultural and farm machinery and equipment, hybrid seed development and post harvest processing of perishable products, fruits and vegetables would further contribute to agricultural cooperation. The concerned authorities of the two countries would also cooperate in the area of weather forecasting. Towards this end, the two leaders resolved that the two countries should finalize at the earliest possible an Agreement providing for comprehensive cooperation in Agriculture.
26. The two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation in the energy sector. In this connection, they welcomed greater cooperation between the public and private sector entities and emphasised the need to cooperate further.
27. The two leaders were briefed on the progress in discussions between the National Thermal Power Corporation of India and the Ceylon Electricity Board of Sri Lanka on the establishment of a joint venture for building a 500 MW coal-fired power plant at Sampur (Trincomalee), incorporating environmentally friendly technologies, with the Government of Sri Lanka providing the requisite infrastructure support. The concerned parties have agreed to complete their discussions on the Joint Venture Agreement, the Power Purchase Agreement, the Agreement with the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, the Implementation Agreement and other relevant arrangements within three months, so that the work on the project can commence without delay. The Sri Lankan side expressed its appreciation for the further concessionary line of credit of US$ 200 million afforded by the Government of India, to enable the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfil its commitments under the Implementation Agreement, including with regard to the construction of a jetty at Sampur and of transmission lines from Sampur to Habarana as also the initial equity of the Ceylon Electricity Board (under the Joint Venture Agreement).
28. An agreement on conducting a feasibility study for the interconnection of the Indian and Sri Lankan electricity grids was also signed on this occasion. The two leaders expressed their confidence that the agreement would make a significant contribution to enhancing India-Sri Lanka cooperation in the energy sector.
29. Recognising the need to speedily restore the traditional links between the two countries, both leaders agreed to resume the ferry services between Colombo and Tuticorin and between Talaimannar and Rameswaram. They directed their respective officials to put in place the mechanisms to start these services at an early date.
30. The two leaders agreed on establishing the Consulates General of India in Jaffna and in Hambantota to reinforce consular cooperation and friendly links between the two countries. The Prime Minister of India welcomed in this regard Sri Lanka’s interest in establishing a further Post in India, in addition to those in Chennai and in Mumbai functioning under the High Commission in New Delhi.
31. The Prime Minister of India and the President of Sri Lanka expressed satisfaction that the Joint Statement on Fishing Arrangements of October 2008, which sought to put in place practical arrangements to deal with bonafide fishermen crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), had led to a decrease in incidents. Both sides agreed to explore ways to strengthen the safety and security of fishermen and, in this context, directed their respective officials to revive the meetings of the bilateral Joint Working Group on Fishing. It was also decided to enhance and promote contacts between the fishermen's associations on both sides.
32. The President of Sri Lanka proposed discussions on the matter of establishing a joint information mechanism on the possibility of oil and gas fields straddling the India Sri Lanka Maritime Boundary. The Prime Minister of India assured the President of Sri Lanka that this proposal would receive the Government of India’s attention and the matter could be discussed further between the two sides.
33. Recognising that the shared cultural and civilizational links provided the bedrock of bilateral relations, the two leaders agreed that the 2600th year of the attainment of enlightenment by Lord Buddha (Sambuddhatva Jayanthi) will be commemorated through joint activities. They noted with appreciation that an International Buddhist Conference will be organized in Kandy later this year with the support of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.
34. Both leaders also welcomed the proposal for the restoration of Tiruketheeswaram temple at Mannar to be undertaken with the assistance of the Archaeological Survey of India and the College of Architecture and Sculpture, Mamallapuram, with the involvement of the Department of Archaeology of Sri Lanka.
35. The Prime Minister of India and the President of Sri Lanka also witnessed the signature of the Programme for Cultural Cooperation for the period 2010-2013.
36. Recognising the immense potential that exists in the two countries to tap knowledge as a key driver of economic and social advancement, the two leaders agreed that both countries should enhance links in the educational sector as a core component of their bilateral engagement. In this context, the two leaders announced the launching of an “India-Sri Lanka Knowledge Initiative”.
37. Under this Initiative, the two leaders welcomed the proposal of the University of Colombo to establish a Centre for Contemporary Indian Studies with the support of the Government of India.
38. The two leaders further welcomed the recent inauguration in Kandy of the Sri Lanka-India Centre for English Language Training (SLICELT) as part of the President's Initiative on English and Information Technology. A distance learning network linking the English and Foreign Language University, Hyderabad and SLICELT will be established to enable training of master trainers and teachers in Sri Lanka and upgrading their skills. It was agreed to expand SLICELT further by establishing provincial and regional centres with Indian assistance.
39. The other elements of the Knowledge Initiative agreed upon by the two leaders include the following:
• India announced an expansion of its scholarship programmes in Sri Lanka, including increasing their numbers, introducing new scholarship schemes, addressing special needs of Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka and upcountry areas and ensuring wider outreach throughout the country.
• Both sides agreed to promote linkages between Indian and Sri Lankan universities and institutions of higher learning.
• India responded positively to the request of Sri Lanka to extend technical assistance to the Ten Year Presidential Initiative to steer Sri Lanka towards a Trilingual Society by 2020.
• Both sides agreed to collaborate in the establishment of a research institute on agriculture in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.
40. Both leaders agreed to promote the use of space technology for a variety of societal services using Indian satellites. For this purpose, the Indian side will extend bandwidth to set up satellite-interactive terminals in Sri Lanka.
41. Welcoming the growing connectivity between the two countries, the two leaders called for greater cooperation in tourism and promotion of people-to-people contacts, especially between the youth of India and Sri Lanka.
42. The leaders reiterated the importance of continuing to work together in the regional and international fora given their increasing convergence of views on a range of issues.
43. Recalling the deliberations at the 16th SAARC Summit in Thimphu, the two leaders agreed to work towards the full realization of the vision of the Thimphu Silver Jubilee Declaration.
44. The two sides also agreed that current global challenges require the reinvigoration of multilateralism, including through the strengthening of the UN system. In this context, Sri Lanka reiterated its position that the UN Security Council reform process should facilitate India's legitimate claim for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and reaffirmed her support for the candidature of India as a permanent member of an expanded UN Security Council. Sri Lanka's support to India's candidature for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2011-12 was also reiterated.
45. Both leaders expressed their satisfaction at the outcome of the State Visit by the President of Sri Lanka to India, which provided further testimony to the continuing excellent relations between the two countries. The President of Sri Lanka also invited the President of India and the Prime Minister of India to pay early visits to Sri Lanka. The invitations were accepted with appreciation.