India asks Sri Lanka to find political solution


Colombo/New Delhi : India Thursday asked Sri Lanka to look beyond the resettlement of war-displaced Tamils and start a political process that would meet the needs and aspirations of the country’s minorities.

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“The focus on development and rehabilitation is welcomed but a long-term perspective that also includes the issues relating to the political settlement that would meet some of the needs of the minorities should also be kept in mind,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said while wrapping her four-day visit to Sri Lanka.

She conveyed India’s view to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa when she met him at his Temple Tress residence in Colombo Wednesday.

“He (Rajapaksa) constantly said he was focused on that (political solution) need. And that he plans to move on it. He has his sights set on that,” Rao said while alluding to her discussions with the Sri Lankan leader. She added that the Sri Lankan government was aware about how India was looking at the issue of a political settlement.

Rao stressed that she articulated this viewpoint in all her discussions and interactions in India. “One of the points I sought to articulate in my meetings with the various representatives of the government and the people I met on my visit was that apart from pursuing the rehabilitation and resettlement of the IDPs, we would also have to move beyond to the political processes involved,” she said.

Rao also raised the issue of attacks on Indian fishermen and suggested regular meetings between the joint working group to address their alleged harassment.

With the plight of war-displaced Tamils a source of continuing concern for India, Rao’s visit will be followed by that of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna in October. India’s army chief, General V.K. Singh, is expected to arrive in Colombo on Sunday.

During her visit, Rao visited camps of internally displaced persons in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Trincomalee districts worst affected by the war between the Sri Lankan forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that ended in May last year.

In her interactions, she assured the IDPs about speedily implementing India’s commitment to building 50,000 houses for displaced Tamil civilians and underlined that these houses will be built with local participation.

Nearly 90 per cent of around 300,000 civilians displaced in the conflict have been resettled in the areas of their origin. Colombo is committed to completing the process of resettlement by the end of next month.