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India always stood for united, sovereign Sri Lanka: Lok Sabha Speaker

Colombo, Oct 6 (IANS) India has always stood for a united and sovereign Sri Lanka, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said on Friday, as her counterpart from the island nation's parliament assured her that the proposed new constitution would take care of all ethnic groups.

After the conclusion of the 8th Conference of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians, the Indian Parliamentary Delegation led by Mahajan met the Sri Lankan delegation led by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and told him of India's stand, an official statement said.

In response, Jayasuriya informed Mahajan that the proposed new Constitution of Sri Lanka would take care of all ethnic groups and other stakeholders. To achieve this goal, the draft of the new Constitution would be widely debated, he said.

Sri Lanka has a major chunk of population of Tamil origin, which constitutes more than 11 per cent of its population.

Referring to rich cultural ties between the two countries, Mahajan suggested that religious tourism for Indian tourists in Sri Lanka could be further increased. In this regard, she also referred to the Buddhist Circuit being developed in India.

Both delegations expressed interest in consolidating closer ties between the two Parliaments and to organise a friendly cricket match between their members.

"It was felt that regular dialogue between the two Parliaments would provide a fillip to bilateral ties," the statement said.

Appreciating the capacity-building programmes being organised by the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training (BPST) of Lok Sabha Secretariat for the their parliamentarians and officials, the Sri Lankan Delegation suggested that the capacity-buildings programmes, including attachment programmes, might be customized for the officials of the Sri Lanka Parliament.

Mahajan assured that all such suggestions would be considered sincerely.

--IANS

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