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Rajapaksa meets Prez, stresses ties should not be harmed

Rajapaksa meets Prez, stresses ties should not be harmed

New Delhi: With attacks against Sri Lankans in Tamil Nadu obviously weighing on his mind, visiting President Mahinda Rajapaksa Thursday told his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee that such "unfortunate incidents" should not be allowed to "harm" age-old ties between the two countries.

In a 40-minute meeting at the Rashtrapathi Bhawan, Rajapaksa and Mukherjee discussed the entire gamut of bilateral ties and a long-lasting solution to the decades-old Tamil issue.

This is the first meeting between Rajapaksa and Mukherjee after the Indian leader took over as President in July.

Without mentioning any particular incident, the Sri Lankan told Mukherjee that the "recent incidents should not be allowed to harm the age-old and civilisational ties between the two countries."

Rajapaksa was referring to attacks against Sri Lankan pilgrims who were visiting Tamil Nadu and the state government's decision to send back a Lankan football team which had come to play in Chennai.

His visit to India has also generated much political heat in Tamil Nadu with almost all political parties voicing their disappointment over his trip.

Sri Lankan High Commission sources told PTI that Rajapaksa briefed Mukherjee about the developmental works being implemented with financial assistance from India and the progress being made on that front.

They said the President also informed his Indian counterpart about the steps being taken to implement recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) that went into alleged war-crimes in the last phase of the civil war.

Mukherjee told Rajapaksa that the development of the northern areas of Sri Lanka is "joint responsibility" of both countries and "complimented" Sri Lanka's economic progress.

"The Indian president complimented especially the rapid progress achieved in the north-east of Sri Lanka," the source said.


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