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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday pitched for full implementation of a constitutional provision by the new Sri Lankan government to ensure devolution of powers to the minority Tamil community even as he announced a USD 15 million grant to the island nation for promotion of bilateral Buddhist ties.
The issue of Tamil reconciliation process figured prominently at a virtual summit between Modi and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who assumed charge of the top post last month for a fresh tenure after his party secured a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary polls.
In the talks that lasted for about an hour, the two sides deliberated on ways to further boost maritime security cooperation, strengthen trade and investment ties and implementation of the East Container Terminal (ECT) project in Colombo port involving India and Japan.
On the Tamil issues, Prime Minister Modi emphasised that implementation of the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution is essential for carrying forward the process of peace and reconciliation, Joint Secretary (Indian Ocean Region) at the Ministry of External Affairs Amit Narang said at a media briefing.
“Prime Minister Modi called on the new government in Sri Lanka to work towards realising the expectations of Tamils for equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united Sri Lanka by achieving reconciliation nurtured by implementation of the constitutional provisions,” he said.
The 13th amendment provides for devolution of power to the Tamil community. India has been pressing Sri Lanka to implement the 13th amendment which was brought in after the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987.
In the talks, India raised the issue of the ECT project in Colombo port as it was put on hold by the Sri Lankan government nearly a after a pact for its implementation was signed.
“Prime Minister Modi expressed confidence that the new government will take early and decisive steps for implementation of these projects,” Narang said when asked about the project being implemented by India and Japan.
In the summit that lasted for about an hour, Modi also expressed his hope that the temporary restrictions imposed by the Sri Lankan side on the imports of some products will be relaxed soon since it will also benefit the economy and common people of the island nation.
In the talks, Modi announced a grant assistance of USD 15 million for the promotion of Buddhist ties between the two countries.
Elaborating on economic issues, Narang said technical negotiations on Sri Lanka’s request for deferment of payment of debt to India and to grant an additional currency swap arrangement of around USD 1 billion is under discussion. (PTI)