Doval Satisfied With Bilateral Ties

IndiaSri Lanka says that the visiting Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval had expressed “much satisfaction” about the “quality and range” of the bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka during his meeting with Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa here on Tuesday.

The Lankan Presidential Secretariat said in a press release that Doval and Rajapaksa discussed ways in which India-Lanka relations could be “further strengthened”.

The Doval-Rajapaksa meeting was described by the Lankan government as a “courtesy call”.

Doval had come to Colombo to deliver the keynote address at an international maritime security conference the “Galle Dialogue 2014” organized by the Lankan navy on December 1 and 2. Earlier on Monday, the NSA met Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and leaders of minority parties such as the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and leading opposition politicians  Ranil Wickremesinghe, Maithripala Sirisena (the joint opposition candidate in the January 8, 2015 Presidential poll) and his main supporter, former Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

In his meeting with the Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe, the latter explained the issues on which the opposition is conducting its election campaign and what a government headed by the joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena hopes to do to strengthen India -Lanka ties and meet India’s strategic concerns in the region.

The impact of the Rajapaksa government’s lurch towards China on India-Lanka ties  was discussed in this context, sources told Express.

It is not clear what was discussed at Doval’s meeting with Sirisena and Kumaratunga but it has given rise to speculation if India is throwing its weight behind Sirisena’s candidature given Rajapaksa’s pro-China tilt and his unwillingness to deliver on  devolution of power to the Tamil-speaking provinces.

In their 40 minute meeting with Doval, Muslim leaders briefed him on the problems faced by the Muslims and other minorities due to state-backed majoritarianism.They also told him about government departments grabbing land from the Muslims in the Eastern Province. According to SLMC leader Hasan Ali, state agencies have grabbed over 20,000 acres from the Muslims.

“I have myself submitted 1,200 petitions in this regard to parliament”, Hasan Ali told Express. (Indian Express)

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