India, Sri Lanka to boost anti-terrorism, maritime security ties (Roundup)

New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) India and Sri Lanka on Tuesday agreed to boost cooperation in combating terrorism and work together for security and stability in the maritime neighbourhood as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks here with his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Both sides inked four agreements, including renewal of an MoU for Indian grant assistance for implementation of Small Development Projects and one for the supply of medical equipment to the District General Hospital at Vavuniya.

Modi, in his media statement after the talks, said both sides also discussed the fishermen issue.

Both agreed that fishermen’s associations on both sides should continue efforts to find a solution.

“I conveyed to him that this should be seen as a humanitarian issue that affects livelihoods,” Modi said, adding that he informed Wickremesinghe of the steps India was taking to encourage Indian fishermen to take up deep sea fishing.

He thanked Wickremesinghe for choosing India for his first overseas visit after his election last month.

Modi remarked that India had hosted President Maithripala Sirisena on his maiden visit abroad in February and that he had himself visited Sri Lanka in March.

“As a close neighbour and friend, we wish Sri Lanka every success, rejoice in your progress, and, assure you of India’s unwavering support,” Modi said.

On the Tamil ethnic issue, Modi said he was “confident that with the wisdom and will of the leadership in Sri Lanka and the support of the people, Sri Lanka will achieve genuine reconciliation and development, so that all Sri Lankans, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, can live a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a united Sri Lanka”.

He said both sides were keen for deeper economic engagement and want to see trade grow and become more balanced for Sri Lanka.

Modi said he sought Sri Lanka’s support for Indian investors keen to participate in Sri Lanka’s economic development, especially in infrastructure, energy and transport sectors.

Modi said he offered India’s full support to strengthen connectivity between the two countries and of continuing commitment to the bilateral development partnership — in infrastructure, railways, energy, community development projects, agriculture, capacity building, science and technology, space and civil nuclear field.

Both sides also reaffirmed the commitment to deepen defence and security cooperation.

Wickremesinghe said the bilateral relationship can reach newer heights.

He said he held discussions with Modi on a host of issues, including their programme of creating one million jobs over the next five years.

Wickremesinghe said both sides discussed the fishermen issue, which would be concluded in a time-bound manner.

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