Modi gives thumbs up to Ranils Government

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today gave his strong backing to the Sri Lankan Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.Speaking at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in New Delhi, Modi said that India was “deeply honoured” that Wickremesinghe had chosen India as his first overseas destination. “Your progress is important for our two countries, South Asia and our maritime region,” he added.Modi also welcomed some significant developments in bilateral relations since March, including the currency swap arrangement.“We also expressed hope that progress on key bilateral initiatives and projects will gather speed now. We both want deeper economic engagement. We would like to see our trade grow and become more balanced for Sri Lanka. We discussed how we can achieve these goals in a more open and competitive Indian market, including through bilateral arrangements for trade and investments. I also sought his support for Indian investors, who are keen to participate in Sri Lanka’s economic development, especially in infrastructure, energy and transport sectors. I offered India’s full support to strengthen connectivity between our two countries to deepen human and economic links that will benefit all sections of our societies. I assured Prime Minister Wickremesinghe of continuing commitment to our development partnership – in infrastructure, railways, energy, community development projects, agriculture, capacity building, science and technology, space and civil nuclear field,” he said. “We shall all miss the great Kumar Sangakkara on the cricket field,” he said.Modi also said that Sri Lanka and India recognise the closely aligned security interests and the need to remain sensitive to each other’s concerns.“We both reaffirmed our commitment to deepen our defence and security cooperation. We will intensify cooperation in combating terrorism and work together for security and stability in our maritime neighbourhood. Sri Lanka is our largest partner in defence training programme and we will continue to expand our cooperation in this area,” he said. “It is a happy coincidence that your last full term as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister coincided with the first NDA Government. We thank you for your belief in and steadfast support for India-Sri Lanka relations. You are a deeply valued friend, whose vision for Sri Lanka’s progress and commitment to its pursuit is greatly admired in India,” he said. Modi also said that he discussed the fishermen issue with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and agreed that fishermen’s associations on both sides should continue their efforts to find a solution.“I conveyed to him that this should be seen as a humanitarian issue that affects livelihoods. I informed him of the steps we are taking to encourage Indian fishermen to take up deep sea fishing,” he said.Modi said that with President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, both countries can look to the future with great optimism. (Colombo Gazette) Modi also said that India and Sri Lanka will continue to nurture people-to-people ties. He noted that India and Sri Lanka just finished an absorbing test series. “Sri Lanka has voted twice this year for change, reforms, reconciliation and progress. There can be no stronger statement of Sri Lanka’s democratic tradition. There can be no clearer sign of Sri Lanka’s march towards a peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous future. As a close neighbour and friend, we wish Sri Lanka every success; rejoice in your progress; and, assure you of India’s unwavering support. So, we are pleased that the Government of Sri Lanka has taken a number of significant steps in recent times. The leadership has shown remarkable political unity, at a time of great hope,” he added.The Indian Prime Minister said that he is confident that with the wisdom and will of the leadership in Sri Lanka and the support of the people, Sri Lanka will achieve genuine reconciliation and development, so that all Sri Lankans, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, can live a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a united Sri Lanka. Modi said that this is a historic year for India-Sri Lanka relations, as it is for Sri Lanka. He recalled that India had the honour of hosting President Sirisena on his maiden visit abroad in February while Modi visited Sri Lanka in March. read more

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DR Congo UN envoy calls on political stakeholders to show flexibility to

Wrapping up a visit to Africa’s Great Lakes region, a United Nations envoy today urged stakeholders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) electoral process to do more to help ensure the country is able to hold peaceful elections.“The Democratic Republic of the Congo is at an important turning point in its political history – I call on all parties to demonstrate flexibility and readiness for compromise to create propitious conditions for peaceful and credible elections,” the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Said Djinnit, said today, according to a news release from his office.The envoy’s comments came at the end of a four-day trip to the DRC’s capital, Kinshasa. According to his office, the aim of the visit was to consult with a wide range of national stakeholders on the electoral process and related political issues and seek their views on how best to support the ongoing mediation efforts led by the Conference Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO), which, it said, are aimed at broadening the consensus on, and inclusivity of the electoral and political process building on the so-called Global Political Agreement reached on 18 October. Last month, the DRC’s Constitutional Court granted a petition of the National Electoral Commission to postpone the elections to 2018. Meanwhile, on 18 October, participants in a national dialogue on elections signed an agreement to conduct the polls in April 2018 – however, the dialogue is being boycotted by several of the main opposition groups, some of which have been staging protests.According to the news release, accompanied by senior officials from the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), Mr. Djinnit held “fruitful” meetings with the Acting Secretary-General of CENCO, the representatives of the Presidential Majority, the opposition coalition of political parties known as the Rassemblement, as well as several individual political leaders. The UN envoy also paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister-designate Samy Badibanga.The news release also noted that in his meetings, Mr. Djinnit expressed support for the ongoing mediation efforts by CENCO, and encouraged representatives from the government and the Rassemblement to exercise restraint and take additional confidence-building measures to help create the enabling environment for successful and peaceful negotiations.While in the region, the Special Envoy also visited the Republic of Congo, where he met with President Denis Sassou Nguesso in the country’s capital, Brazzaville. They discussed the preparation of the next meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Framework for Peace, Security and Cooperation, which will be held in October 2017, as well as the need for promoting common ground between the electoral stakeholders in the DRC and the situation in Burundi. read more

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