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Indo-Lanka defense agreement to be finalized in February

PLA Daily 2004-01-20

COLOMBO, Jan. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Sri Lanka will finalize a defense cooperation agreement with neighboring India by the end of February, the official Daily News said on Monday.

Defense Secretary Cyril Herath, who paid a three-day visit to India from Wednesday last week, said that the Indian defense authorities showed keen interest in finalizing the proposed agreement.

"The proposed agreement is largely about the training of security forces, sharing of intelligence and defense supplies," Herath said.

He said that the signing of the agreement will be decided by the Indian and Sri Lankan governments once the draft agreement is finalized by the end of February.

During his visit, Herath, accompanied by Chief of Defense Staff and Army Commander Lieutenant General Lionel Balagalle, had extensive discussions with the Indian defense delegation headed by Indian Defense Secretary Ajay Prasad as well as Indian Defense Minister George Fernandez.

Herath said there was a separate discussion over strengthening the Palaly air base in northern Jaffna peninsula of the country.

"A separate agreement will be signed between the two countries on the rehabilitation of the Palaly airstrip," he added.

India supports the Norwegian-brokered peace process in Sri Lanka but adopts a hand-off policy in this regard.

However, India is kept informed by the Sri Lankan government on the latest development in the country's peace process.

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