Saarc should ensure there is no cross-border terrorism: Sri Lanka

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New Delhi, Oct 5 (IANS) With the Saarc summit called off amid concerns voiced over terrorism, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday said regional grouping Saarc should work towards ensuring there is no cross-border terror in India or the South Asian region.

Wickremesinghe, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier in the day, said that his country was also affected by terrorism and it takes a long time to tackle the scourge of terrorism, referring to the island nation’s long fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Wickremesinghe, speaking to reporters along with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, said he had discussed with the Indian government on the future of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

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His comments come in the wake of the summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November being called off after India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan pulled out, citing concerns over rising terrorism in the region. Colombo too voiced unwillingness to attend, following which it was postponed.

“What I discussed with your government is how does Saarc go from here,” he said, and added that he complimented Prime Minister Modi and the Indian government for the “restraint in handling the issue”.

“Let us look at getting things back, so that there will be no cross-border terrorism in India or any other country. We’ve gone through it, it is a process that will take some time.. But our objective is to ensure there is no cross-border terrorism,” he said.

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On ties with China, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister said that the ties were merely economic and not military, referring to India’s concerns over the berthing of a Chinese warship at Colombo port two years ago.

He said the Chinese involvement in port projects, including Hambantota, are strictly economic projects. “But what we are talking with India are much bigger projects,” he said.

“Furthering partnerships with a valued neighbour. PM @narendramodi meets Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe @RW_UNP at Hyderabad House,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted along with a picture of the two leaders after their meeting earlier in the day.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Wickremesinghe, and later Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari and Dharmendra Pradhan also called on him.

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Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Wickremesinghe here.

Wickremesinghe arrived here on Tuesday on a three-day bilateral visit to India.

The Sri Lankan Prime Minister will attend the opening plenary of the India Economic Summit here on Thursday before leaving for Colombo.



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