JOINT STATEMENT ON THE VISIT OF HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER
RANIL WICKREMESINGHE TO INDIA OCTOBER 19-21, 2003
21 October 2003
Honourable Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka,
visited India from 19-21 October 2003 at the invitation of the
Government of India. He was accompanied by Tyronne Fernando, Minister
of Foreign Affairs; Milinda Moragoda, Minister of Economic Reforms,
Science and Technology and other senior officials.
The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka held wide-ranging discussions
with Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Deputy Prime Minister
and Ministers of External Affairs, Commerce & Industry, Civil
Aviation and Petroleum & Natural Gas called on Prime Minister
Wickremesinghe. The discussions were substantive and held in a
cordial atmosphere, reflective of the close relations between
the two countries.
The two Prime Ministers expressed their happiness that the Free
Trade Agreement, which became operational in December 2001, had
enabled bilateral trade to cross the US$ 1 billion mark in the
financial year 2002-03.
A decision to go beyond the Free Trade Agreement was taken during
the last visit of the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in June 2002.
An India-Sri Lanka Joint Study Group was set up to make recommendations
for the establishment of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership
Agreement. The Co-Chairmen of the Joint Study Group presented
their recommendations tothe two Prime Ministers on 20th October
2003. Expressing their satisfaction on the speed with which the
Joint Study Group prepared its comprehensive report with its far-reaching
recommendations, the Prime Ministers congratulated the members
of the Group and directed that negotiations begin immediately,
with the target of concluding the Comprehensive Economic Partnership
Agreement by the end of March 2004. This would enable the two
countries to reap the early benefits of freer trade in goods and
services and enhanced investment and economic cooperation.
The two Prime Ministers noted the successful holding of the 5th
session of the Joint Commission Meeting, co-chaired by the Foreign
Ministers, in Colombo on 15th October 2003 and the signing of
the Agreement to release the second tranche of US$ 30 million
out of the US$ 100 million Line of Credit extended to Sri Lanka.
They agreed that further Lines of Credit for infrastructure projects
could be discussed.
The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction that existing
understandings on dealing sympathetically and humanely with fishermen
who stray into each other's maritime zone were working well. It
was noted that a number of Indian fishermen had been released
by the Sri Lankan side and several Sri Lankan vessels detained
at Nagapattinam had been released for repair and escorted back
to Sri Lanka. It was agreed that while it was important that the
fishermen should be released early, the boats may be held till
the judicial processes in the two countries are completed. The
Prime Ministers agreed on the need to undertake enhanced surveillance
to minimize incursions, institutionalize assistance for salvage
operations of released vessels, pay attention to ecological and
conservation aspects and consider licensed fishing within a bilateral
Memorandum of Understanding on Fisheries.
The two Prime Ministers expressed their satisfaction at increased
civil aviation links between India and Sri Lanka. They noted that
Sri Lankan Airlines had increased the number of its weekly flights
to Indian destinations from 29 to 44 since their last meeting.
Without prejudice to already existing arrangements, India offered
to Sri Lanka the facility of daily air services by its designated
airlines between Colombo and the metropolitan cities of Delhi,
Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata. In addition,
unlimited access would be available for air services to and from
18 tourist destinations in India. It was agreed to do away with
the existing requirement of Commercial Agreements between designated
airlines of the two countries for asymmetrical operations. With
a view to increasing tourist flow and connectivity, it was also
decided to encourage private scheduled airlines of India, who
operate only in the domestic sector at present, to extend their
operations to airports in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister
agreed to reciprocate in terms of the access that airlines from
India could have to Sri Lankan airspace.
The Sri Lankan Prime Minister proposed commencement of a ferry
service linking Colombo with Kochi (Kerala).
The Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the significant contribution
made by the India-Sri Lanka Foundation towards fostering exchanges
in cultural, educational, scientific and technological areas and
announced a further contribution of Rs. 1 crore each to enable
the Foundation to sustain its diverse activities.
Taking note of the continuing acts of terrorism worldwide and
in our region, the two Prime Ministers emphasized the need for
concerted opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
They agreed that there can be no justification for terrorism,
be it political, religious or ideological. They recalled the obligations
devolving on States, inter alia, under Security Council Resolution
1373 and the International Convention on the Suppression of Financing
of Terrorism. The Kathmandu Declaration adopted at the 11th SAARC
Summit held in Kathmandu on 6 January 2002 on criminalization
of financing for terrorist purposes and the need to prevent the
abuse of financial systems of States was also recalled. They reaffirmed
the need to finalize and adopt, at the earliest, the proposed
Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism, which would send a strong
signal that the international community was united and determined
in its efforts to eliminate the scourge of terrorism. Furthermore,
they also urged the early conclusion of the proposed Additional
Protocol to the SAARC Convention on Suppression of Terrorism.
The two Prime Ministers discussed the ongoing cooperation in
training and the supply of equipment to the Sri Lankan defence
forces and agreed that the two sides will commence discussions
with a view to concluding a defence cooperation agreement at the
The Sri Lankan Prime Minister apprised the Indian leadership
of recent developments in the peace process and proposals made
by his Government for the establishment of an Interim Administration.
India expects that the response to the proposals made by the Sri
Lankan Government in July 2003 will be reasonable and comprehensive.
India supports the process of seeking a negotiated settlement
acceptable to all sections of Sri Lankan society within the framework
of a united Sri Lanka and consistent with democracy, pluralism
and respect for individual rights. It believes that an enduring
solution has to emerge purely through internal political processes.
India will maintain an abiding interest in the security of Sri
Lanka and remains committed to its sovereignty and territorial
integrity. India would welcome a resolution of the current impasse
in the peace process and an early resumption of negotiations.
Any interim arrangement should be an integral part of the final
settlement and should be in the framework of the unity and territorial
integrity of Sri Lanka.
October 21, 2003