In the aftermath of a meeting with Indian leaders, External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris will undertake a visit to Pakistan tomorrow to discuss matters related to bilateral relations ahead of the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Prof. Peiris said he would meet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharrif and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar during his visit to discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relations between the two countries.
Pakistan has been a key political ally of Sri Lanka. During the sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Pakistan played a role in rallying the support of like-minded countries for Sri Lanka.
Besides, in reference to his interaction with the Indian media in New Delhi, he said journalists, raised questions on the Katchchativu issue among others.
The minister said yesterday there was no ambiguity of the stand of the central government of India in this regard.
India, in agreements signed in 1974 and 1976 recognized that Katchchativu is part of Sri Lanka’s territory.
A few years ago, an official statement was made in Lok Sabha saying that Katchchativu was an issue settled with Sri Lanka.
Minister Peiris, upon return to the country after meeting India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External affairs Minister Salman Kurshid, said the media directed questions at him on the Katchchativu issue in New Delhi.
“It is not a question of handing over one country’s island to another. It is a matter for the demarcation or International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL),” he said.
According to a document tabled in Sri Lanka Parliament, the 1974 Agreement regarding historic waters between Sri Lanka and India in the Palk Straits and the Palk Bay formally confirmed Sri Lanka’s sovereignty over the Island.
Article 4 of the Agreement stipulates that each State shall have sovereignty and exclusive jurisdiction and control over the waters, the Islands, the Continental Shelf and the sub soil on its side of the Maritime boundary in the Palk Strait and Palk Bay and Kachchativu Island was determined as falling within Sri Lankan waters.
Article 5, of the 1976 Agreement stipulates that; Each Party shall have sovereignty over the historic waters and the territorial sea, as well as the islands falling on its side of the aforesaid boundary.
Also, it says each Party shall have sovereign rights and exclusive jurisdiction over the Continental Shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as well as over their resources, whether living or non-living, falling on its side of the aforesaid boundary.
“Each Party shall respect rights of navigation through its territorial sea and exclusive economic zone in accordance with its laws and regulations and the rules of international law,” it says.
With regard to the 1987 Indo-Lanka accord that introduced the provincial council system in Sri Lanka, he said it was high time that the government looked into this agreement signed a quarter of century ago. In this case, he said the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) was the most appropriate forum to discuss it.
He said the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) was always welcome to participate in it. (Kelum Bandara)