Colombo, Jan 17 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Tuesday conveyed India's assistance to building of 50,000 houses in Sri Lanka.
Krishna in his remarks at the joint press interaction with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, said: "Minister Peiris and I have just signed a MoU specifying the modalities for the next phase of the Housing Project being implemented with India's assistance of about 260 million US Dollars. This MoU involves the construction of 49,000 houses, out of a total of 50,000 houses."
"As you know, the Pilot Project for construction of the first 1000 houses is in an advanced stage of completion. During my visit to Jaffna tomorrow, I would be handing over the first lot of these houses to the beneficiaries," he added.
Krishna informed that the two countries also signed MoUs for Cooperation in the Field of Agriculture and for Cooperation between the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka.
Krishna further said the development assistance projects are entirely based on the priorities set by the government and the people of Sri Lanka.
"The main themes are connectivity, housing, health, education, livelihood restoration and economic revival. I would be visiting Kilinochchi tomorrow, to handover medical equipment to the District General Hospital, and also reopen schools we had helped repair. As a token gesture, we are also providing 10,000 bicycles to IDPs in the Northern Province," he added.
Further asserting that India is committed to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, Krishna said New Delhi will continue to work with Colombo, and help to take this process forward in a spirit of partnership and cooperation.
"It is our hope that the vision and leadership that resulted in an end to armed conflict will now be employed in the quest for a genuine political reconciliation. We look forward to progress in the ongoing dialogue process, in order to address this issue in a timely manner.We will continue to work with the Government of Sri Lanka, and help in whatever way we can, to take this process forward, in a spirit of partnership and cooperation," he added.
Expressing his delight to note that the bilateral trade in goods would touch the five billion US Dollar mark, Krishna said: " India is also a leading player in Sri Lanka, as far as investments and tourist arrivals are concerned. To sustain this positive momentum in our trade and economic relations and take it to the next level, it is necessary to finalize a more comprehensive framework of economic cooperation."
The External Affairs Minister said that the constructive recommendations contained in the recently released report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) after its implementation would mark a major step forward in the process of genuine national reconciliation, to which the Sri Lankan Government is committed.
" Sri Lanka must seize this opportunity," said Krishna.
Krishna said that the Sri Lankan Government has on many occasions conveyed to New Delhi its commitment to move towards a political settlement based on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, and building on it, so as to achieve meaningful devolution of powers.
"We look forward to an expeditious and constructive approach to the dialogue process. We believe that continuation of the dialogue between the Government and the TNA would pave the way for political settlement, including under the rubric of the Parliamentary Select Committee," he added. (ANI)
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