Ahead of his visit to India next week, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday said there was an immense scope to boost the "irreversible" bilateral ties and sought partnerships in infrastructure, manufacturing and services sector between the two neighbours.
"The relationship between Sri Lanka and India has been anchored in a rich heritage and is irreversible...We are now adding new spice to our relations with India and the world, with new and varied business opportunities," Rajapaksa said inaugurating a business forum organised by the Indian and Sri Lankan Chambers of Commerce as part of the IIFA awards ceremony here.
"Today, we extend our hand of friendship and opportunity to all nationalities and communities, while we are well on our way to bring about a true re-conciliation within our communities and extensive economic empowerment among our people," the President, who would visit India on June 8, said.
He expressed his strong belief that to bring permanent peace there must be development. "As I have often said, there is no peace without development, and no development without peace."
"Those of you who are keen to explore will find abundant opportunities for investment in Sri Lanka," he said adding the scope is immense: from infrastructure, agri-business and manufacturing to a range of services.
The President said his country also offered a rare package of skills, capacity and willingness to learn and adapt.
"Our policy is vibrant, our package is enticing and exciting, and you would do well to join us in our forward march. I earnestly invite you to do so," he said.
The world business community is now slowly but surely acknowledging and appreciating Sri Lanka's "major" successes in the economic sphere, though not much is reported in the media, he told the gathering.
Rajapaksa said there was still "undue" pressure being exerted on Sri Lanka by some elements that supported the LTTE. "You are well aware of those elements," he said without elaborating.
On the problems of Internally Displaced People (IDPs), the President said that what Sri Lanka achieved in terms of rehabilitation of those "misled" youth and resettlement of the IDPs, is far superior than any such exercise anywhere in the world.