Krishna meets Sri Lankan Tamil, Muslim leaders
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Monday met separately
leaders of ethnic Tamils and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC)
ahead of his talks Tuesday with his Sri Lankan counterpart
Colombo: India will
extend financial assistance to Sri Lanka in restoring livelihoods
of the ethnic Tamils and reviving the economy in the northern
region of the island nation.
"Our development assistance projects are based on priorities of
the Sri Lankan government and its people. Our funds ($712 million)
will provide connectivity, housing, health, education, livelihood
and economic revival in the northern region," India's External
Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told reporters here Tuesday.
To promote economic ties and boost trade between the two countries
to $5 billion this year from $4.5 billion in 2011, both the
governments also signed five agreements in the presence of Krishna
and his Sri Lankan counterpart G.M. Peiris.
Under the first agreement, India will provide $260 million for the
construction of 49,000 houses for about 300,000 ethnic Tamils who
are in camps as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the
aftermath of the three decade-old armed conflict in the northern,
central and eastern provinces.
The ambitious project includes reconstruction of 38,000 houses,
repairs of 5,000 houses under the owner-driven model for IDPs and
6,000 units for those IDPs who are unable to build their own
The second agreement envisages $382 million line of credit by the
EXIM (Export-Import) Bank of India to restore the northern railway
services in the strife-torn region. The credit will be used for
track laying on the Pallali-Kankesanthurai railway line and other
Under the third agreement, the EXIM Bank will extend $70 million
buyer's credit for funding a water supply project in the Dambulla
The fourth agreement facilitates cooperation in the fields of
agricultural science, technology, farm production and
agro-processing through joint activities, exchange of scientific
materials, information and personnel.
The fifth agreement provides for setting up a mechanism of
technical and institutional cooperation in telecommunications
under the aegis of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
and the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka.
To sustain the momentum in economic and trade ties between the two
countries, Krishna stressed on finalising the comprehensive
framework of economic cooperation that has been pending since
"India is also a leading player in Sri Lanka in terms of
investments and tourist arrivals in the island nation," Krishna
said at a joint press conference that was held after his talks