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President to exchange views with Indian leaders

November 28, 2006- 4.00 GMT
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is due to have a series of important meetings with India leaders in New Delhi today (Nov. 28) and tomorrow (29).

He returned to New Delhi yesterday (27) after a busy schedule at Dehradun, where he was the Chief Guest at the First Asian Mayors' Conference; and, later laid the Foundation stone for the Indo - Sri Lanka Human Rights Centre for the South Asia at the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra.

The streets of Dehradun were decorated to welcome President Rajapaksa. There were many hoardings announcing a welcome and greetings to the Sri Lankan President. People lined the route of the President's motorcade.

His busy schedule today (Nov 28) includes meetings with the Indian Foreign Minister Pranabh Mukherjee; the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and leader of the BJP, Mr. L. K. Adavani; and the Leader of the Congress Party and the ruling United Progress Alliance, Shrimathi Sonia Gandhi.

All three of them will call over at the President's suite at the Maurya Sheraton for the meetings. The discussions at these meetings are expected to cover a wide range of matters regarding both Sri Lankan political affairs and official relations between Sri Lanka and India.

On Wednesday (29) President Rajapaksa will meet with the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at Hyderabad House. Later the same day he will call on the Indian President Abdul Kalam at Rashtrapathi Bhavan.

There is considerable importance attached to President Rajapaksa's meeting with the Indian Prime Minister. This will give the President an opportunity to explain to Prime Minister Singh the situation regarding current political developments in Sri Lanka, particularly the situation in then North and
East, focusing on the A9 highway. Prime Minister Singh has been asked by Indian political parties, mainly in Tamil Nadu, to raise the A9 issue with the Sri Lankan President.

President Rajapaksa will also discuss bi-lateral relations between Sri Lanka and India, especially matters regarding the Indo - Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement and means of improving trade and commerce between the two countries and, increasing Indian investment in Sri Lanka, and other matters of mutual interest.

According to political observers in New Delhi the meetings that have been arranged for President Rajapaksa with political leaders indicate the importance Sri Lanka attaches to good relations with India, and the reciprocal attitudes by the main political parties at the Centre in India.



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