India, Sri Lanka ink pacts, discuss devolution of powers

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New Delhi: India and Sri Lanka on June 9 signed seven agreements and discussed devolution of powers to the provinces and opening of negotiations with Tamil groups.

In delegation level talks led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Raja-paksa, the two sides also touched upon ensuring livelihood to Sri Lankan Tamils and steps to ensure the speedy resettlement of those still in makeshift camps over a year after the war ended with the LTTE.

The two leaders also touched on other bilateral and global issues such as stepping up trade and investment, ensuring energy security and better cooperation in counter-terrorism.

Rajapaksa assured reassured Dr. Singh about his government’s plans to resettle refugees who continue to remain in camps. Sri Lanka claims that bulk of the displaced Tamils in its northern part have been resettled and of the 50,000 who remain, half move in and out of the camps. Colombo agreed with New Delhi’s perception that a sense of dignity and livelihood has to be ensured to all those displaced by the war.

Besides renewing a MoU on SDP schemes, Foreign Secre-tary Nirupama Rao and Sri Lanka High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam agreed on the setting up a center to assist in the rehabilitation of war-widows with help from the Ahmedabad-based Self-Employed Women’s Associa-tion. The two officials also inked a MoU on renewing the cultural exchange program.

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