The proposed Indo-Lanka Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) has been finalised. The controversial agreement will be signed when President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga visits New Delhi early shortly.
This was revealed by the Indian Army Chief General N.C.Vij when he paid a courtesy call on the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and Naval Chief of Sri Lanka Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri at the Navy headquarters. He is here on a four day official visit and is scheduled to visit Mannar and Vavuniya during his stay.
It was only two months ago that Indian Naval Chief Arun Prakash, who was here on an official visit, expressed concern about the build up of the LTTE bases in the east of Sri Lanka during a tour of Trincomalee.
He stressed the importance of this agreement for both countries and said it would be more beneficial for Sri Lanka.
Gen Vij, explaining the crucial Defence Cooperation Agreement, said Sri Lanka would be immensely benefited by way of training and the country’s defence will be a key issue that would be looked into under this agreement.
He also said where regional cooperation was concerned similar agreements would be signed by India with other countries in the region and greater emphasis would be laid on the security of the region. Already the ground work had been laid for such bilateral agreements, he added.
He assured that there would be greater cooperation between the countries in the region and said that the signing of the much awaited Defence Pact was a great victory for both countries.
Last week the "Voice of Tigers" quoted LTTE’s political advisor Anton Balasingham as saying that the proposed DCA would tilt the balance between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE and further strain the fragile peace process.
Answering questions, the Indian Army Chief said discussions were being held with regard to patrolling of the territorial waters between Sri Lanka and India and the Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Navy was cooperating with the Sri Lanka Navy.
Chief of Defence Staff and Navy Commander Admiral Daya Sandagiri said no decision had been arrived yet on the problem of the Indian fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters, but authorities from the two countries were discussing the matter.
Sandagiri said ties with India would be further strengthened with the signing of the DCA.
Asked about the position of the proposed ‘Sethu Samudram’ project, he said it was a threat to Sri Lanka’s National Security and many of the natural marine resources would be destroyed if India goes ahead with the project. However he said he had submitted a four page report to the Foreign Ministry.
He appreciated India’s assistance in providing training to the Sri Lankan armed forces and said 90 percent of the country’s military personnel had been trained with the assistance provided by India over the years.