Modi meets Bhutan PM, Sri Lanka president

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New York: Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued his round of neighborhood diplomacy by meeting Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena and Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay on Friday to discuss economic cooperation.

On Thursday he met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. There were no plans to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has canceled his visit to New York because of violent protests at home against a new constitution.

Modi complimented Sirisena on the successful and peaceful completion of parliamentary elections and said it showed a deep-rooted commitment to democracy, a trait shared with India.

About a recent UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) report calling for special courts with international participation to try those charged with war crimes during the civil war, Modi said that he supported the quest for justice, but also respected Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. He added that a way could be found for a consensus between Colombo and the UNHRC.

Sri Lanka opposed UNHRC proposals for so-called ‘hybrid courts’ that had both Sri Lankan and international judges and investigators, and said it would only accept advice from outside. The United States is drafting a resolution on the subject, and according to media reports, it would call for ‘hybrid courts’ and Sri Lanka is trying hard to block it.

Modi and Sirisena also discussed the bilateral development projects that include the building of 57,000 houses in areas ravaged by civil war, railway infrastructure and power generation.

Development projects figured prominently in discussions between Tobgay and Modi, according to Swarup. The hydroelectric projects India was building for Bhutan would export power to India in a large enough quantity to save 11 million metric tons of carbon by not using fossil fuels to generate that amount of electricity. That would be a contribution to sustainability.

Tobgay suggested extending the Bhutan-Bangladesh-India-Nepal connectivity project beyond the motorway to other types of links.

Both Sri Lanka and Bhutan backed Security Council reforms. Tobgay said that it was an anomaly that India was not a permanent member of the Council.