New Delhi, January 20
India considers the full implementation of the 13th Amendment in Sri Lanka as "critical" for achieving reconciliation with the minority Tamil community, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday during his visit to Colombo, underlining that New Delhi always supported political and economic stability in the island nation.
India was first country to back us
India was the first country to officially back our debt restructuring programme by conveying financial assurance to the IMF. Ali Sabry, Sri Lanka EAM
India has been pressing Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment which was brought in after the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987.
The 13A provides for the devolution of power to the Tamil community.
Jaishankar said his visit to Colombo was part of the Neighbourhood First Policy and not leaving partners to fend for themselves.
“This year, in a developing situation that was beginning to cause concern, the same sentiment reasserted itself,” said Jaishankar, on the last day of his visit to Sri Lanka, about the $4 billion in debt extended by India.
“India decided not to wait for others but to do what we believe is right,” he said in a broadside at China, which extended negligible assistance when Sri Lanka was in an economic abyss. Jaishankar’s counterpart Ali Sabry acknowledged that India was the “first country to officially back our debt restructuring programme by conveying financial assurance to the IMF”.
Sri Lanka is trying to secure a $2.9 billion bridge loan from the IMF, which requires financial assurances from its major creditors — China, Japan and India. The bailout is on hold till the IMF gets assurances from all three creditors.
Moving beyond platitudes, Jaishankar hoped that Trincomalee, whose port is of strategic importance for India, would emerge as an energy hub and wanted Colombo to pay special attention to the requirements of the Indian-origin Tamil community.
Jaishankar also called on President Ranil Wickremesinghe, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. In his meetings, Jaishankar sought a more business-friendly environment, especially in energy, tourism and infrastructure, for more Indian investments and hoped that Lankan lawmakers would realise the gravity of the situation.
He said President Wickremesinghe briefed him on the question of political devolution and “I shared with him our considered view that the full implementation of the 13th Amendment and early provincial elections are critical”.
Describing energy security as one of Sri Lanka's most serious challenges, he felt the search for solutions must encompass the larger region for Sri Lanka to get the full benefit of scale.
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