PM Modi visits Jaffna: As it happened
Narendra Modi landed in Jaffna on Saturday, becoming the first Indian prime minister to visit Sri Lanka`s war-ravaged northern Tamil heartland.
- Modi meets Rajapaksa at the 'India House' inside the premises of the Indian High Commission in Colombo.
- PM Modi will meet former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa later today in Colombo.
- Narendra Modi has returned to Colombo.
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) March 14, 2015
- This is a unique type of project - owner driven. This idea was started in Gujarat after 2001 earthquake: PM
- These houses are not merely walls of bricks and stone. These houses are an effort to make the lives of those who have suffered happier, says the PM.
- I am glad this programme, my final public programme, during my Sri Lanka visit, is one to wipe tears from the eyes of those who suffered: PM
- PM Modi hands over houses under Ilavalai North-West housing project in Jaffna.
- PM Modi says he is confident that the Talaimannar Railway project will give pace to the development of this area.
- India is proud to have an opportunity to establish a unique and world-level cultural centre in Jaffna: PM Modi
- When a library is established, a place where books can be found, it unites the generations, says the PM.
- Jaffna is making a new mark for itself, spreading message of peace to the world: PM Modi
- The PM begins his address at Jaffna Public Library.
- PM Narendra Modi lays the foundation stone for the iconic Jaffna Cultural Centre funded by India.
- Narendra Modi lands in Jaffna, becoming the first Indian prime minister to visit Sri Lanka`s war-ravaged northern Tamil heartland.
- Accompanied by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Modi also unveils a plaque inaugurating Talaimannar 1650 Pier Railway station.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi flags off a train service at the north-western Sri Lankan town of Talaimannar - the closest point to India - restored after decades of civil war, completing the reconstruction of the entire Northern Province Railway Line.
- PM Modi arrives in the north-western town of Talaimannar.
- Anuradhapura is an ancient city, located at a distance of 206 km from Colombo. The city is the capital of North-Central province.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi offers alms to the Head Monk.
- Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera is also present at the rituals.
- PM Modi is accompanied by Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena.
- After arriving in Anuradhapura, PM Modi offers prayers at the sacred Mahabodhi tree in a move aimed at projecting India's Buddhist links in the region.
- The PM received at Anuradhapura helipad by dignitaries and given Guard of Honour.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the historic north-central city of Anuradhapura.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to microblogging website Twitter this morning to say he was looking forward to a wonderful day.
Leaving for Anuradhapura. Will also travel to Talaimannar and Jaffna today. Looking forward to a wonderful day.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 14, 2015
- Modi will also stop at a Buddhist temple in the historic north-central city of Anuradhapura that is home to a tree worshippers believe was grown from a sapling from the one that sheltered the Buddha over 2,500 years ago.
- On his way to Jaffna, Modi will stop at the north-western town of Talaimannar, the closest point to India, to flag off a train service restored after decades of war.
- Modi, who is only the second foreign leader to visit the battle-scarred region, will launch construction of a cultural centre and hand over houses to 50,000 families that lost their homes in the decades of fighting. British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Jaffna during a Commonwealth summit in Colombo in November 2013.
- Narendra Modi will travel to Jaffna on Saturday, becoming the first Indian prime minister to visit Sri Lanka`s Tamil heartland, a day after urging greater autonomy for the island`s biggest minority after a decades-long ethnic war.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday gently nudged Sri Lanka to reach out to its Tamil minority and branded the the vanquished Tamil Tigers terrorists as he outlined his determination to build a stronger economic relationship with Colombo.
In a carefully worded speech delivered in parliament, Modi emphasized that Colombo, which crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009, needed to respect all diversities -- for its own good.
Sri Lanka, he said to loud thumping of desks by the MPs, had successfully defeated terrorism and ended a long-running conflict that claimed thousands of lives since 1983.
"You now stand at a moment of historic opportunity to win the hearts and heal the wounds across all sections of society," he said, speaking in English to an audience of mostly Sinhalese politicians.
Modi - the first Indian prime minister to make a bilateral visit to Sri Lanka after 1987 - referred to the presidential election of January which ousted Mahinda Rajapaksa and catapulted Maithripala Sirisena to power.
The election reflected the "collective voice of the nation - the hope for change, reconciliation and unity", he said.
"I am confident of a future of Sri Lanka, defined by unity and integrity; peace and harmony; and opportunity and dignity for everyone.
"I believe in Sri Lanka's ability to achieve it... The path ahead is a choice that Sri Lanka has to make.
"But I can assure you this: For India, the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka are paramount," Modi said.
At the same time, the Indian leader suggested that Sri Lanka should grant autonomy to provinces, including the Tamil majority north which he visits Saturday.
Modi said all countries in South Asia have to deal with the "issues of identities and inclusion, of rights and claims, of dignity and opportunity for different sections of our societies".
He said such issues have sometimes had tragic consequences. "Each of us has sought to address these complex issues in our own ways. However, we choose to reconcile them.
"To me something is obvious: Diversity can be a source of strength for nations," he said.
The dragging conflict in Sri Lanka has badly hurt ethnic harmony in the country. Recent moves by some Tamil politicians to rake up the language of separatism has hardened feelings in Sinhalese areas.
The Indian leader said a country became stronger when the aspirations of all its sections were accommodated.
Modi's speech was aimed at reaching out Sri Lanka, separated from India by a narrow strip of sea, and came after he held talks Sri Lanka's new leadership after arriving here on the final leg of his three-nation tour.
Modi, who flew in from Mauritius, attended several functions, including delegation level talks with President Sirisena, and visited the Mahabodhi Society and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
Modi said the dragging row between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen was a "complex issue" and needed a long-term solution.
On the India-brokered 13th constitutional amendment on devolution of powers to provinces, he said its "early and full implementation and going beyond it" would help the process of building a united Sri Lanka.
Modi announced a slew of measures to boost bilateral ties, including in the energy sector and providing visa on arrival for tourists from April 14 -- the Tamil and Sinhalese New Year.
He said a Joint Task Force on Ocean Economy would be set up to tap the vast oceans.
He announced Air India's direct flights between New Delhi and Colombo, and cooperation in developing a Ramayana Trail in Sri Lanka and a Buddhist circuit in India.
A fresh Line of Credit of $318 million was announced for Sri Lankan railways.
Modi said the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka had agreed to enter into a Currency Swap Agreement of $1.5 billion, to help keep the Sri Lankan rupee stable.
In his address to Parliament, Modi said Sri Lanka had the potential to be India's strongest economic partner.
He pushed for an ambitious Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and said India can be a natural source of investment.
"India and Sri Lanka are too close to look away from each other. Nor can we be insulated from one another," he said.
Modi also visited the Mahabodhi Society here and met with Buddhist monks. He went to the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) memorial to honour the Indian soldiers who died fighting the Tamil Tigers in 1987-90.
On Saturday, Modi will visit Jaffna, where India has undertaken infrastructure development projects including building of 50,000 homes in the former conflict zone.