Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had a wide-ranging discussions with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during his visit to New Delhi on Saturday. In an exclusive interview with DT Next, Rajapaksa says all differences between the two countries have been cleared and the bilateral ties are on the upswing
What do you feel about the state of relations between the two countries after your talks with Prime Minister Modi and whether differences that had cropped up in the recent past been resolved?
The discussions were fruitful and there was lot of warmth shown by PM Modi. He came out to see me off. All differences have been cleared. The relations between the two countries are on the upswing. The foundation for the good relations was already laid during the visit of his brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last year after his election. Cooperation is set to grow in the area of economy and counter terrorism. Terrorism is an enemy of both the countries, which have been suffering the malaise for the past few decades.
About the Easter Day bomb attacks in Colombo last year?
The previous government under Sirisena botched all the tips and information given by India. They let go of the opportunity. President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickeramasinghe were personally given the information. They did not act. In fact, the previous government dismantled all the structures they had built to counter terror. 70 counter terrorism experts and intelligence officials were either sacked or sent to jail or transferred to insignificant posts in missions abroad. The problem now is the increasing radicalism and extremism. The real challenge is how to tackle people who believe and are ready to give up their lives in the belief that they will straight reach God and heaven. In fact, the family involved in the Easter Day bombing was one of the richest families of Sri Lanka with two of their children educated in Australia and the UK.
On India’s apprehensions about Sri Lanka’s perceived closeness to China?
Why should India worry about China. India is a powerful country.
Modi, in his joint interaction with you, talked of the need for Sri Lanka implementing the 13th Amendment for meeting the aspirations of Tamils there. What is your reaction?
The 13th Amendment is already in existence. The irony is that the Provincial Councils are not putting its provisions into best use. In fact, Northern Council Province Chief Minister Chief Minister Vigneswaran had returned a hefty part of funds allocated to the province.