Work out an arrangement with Tamils: India to SL

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member
Colombo: Seeking a "quick" solution to Sri Lanka's drawn out ethnic conflict, India on Saturday pressed the Mahinda Rajapaksa government to come to a "political arrangement" with the minority Tamils.

"The quicker the Sri Lankan government can come to a political arrangement (with Tamils) the better," National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon said after his talks with President Rajapaksa along with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar.

Sri Lanka had already pledged to improve on the 13th amendment, the 1987 constitutional provision which seeks to grant regional autonomy, as a political solution, Menon said, addressing Colombo-based Indian reporters.

The controversial 1987 amendment was a result of the Indo-Lanka peace accord which sought, but failed to end Tamil separatism in the island.

Menon maintained that Sri Lanka has already pledged to improve on the constitutional amendment and hoped they would implement it.

Menon along with Rao and Kumar opened closed-door talks with Foreign Minister G L Peiris soon after arriving in Colombo on Friday and had a breakfast meet with Rajapaksa this morning.

After spending about two hours with Rajapaksa, they also met with Tamil political leaders before leaving the island. The visit took place against the backdrop of the Tamil Nadu Assembly passing a resolution demanding imposition of economic sanctions against Colombo.

Menon said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's recent remarks did not figure in their talks.

"The Sri Lankan government has said that they will directly deal with the centre," Menon said playing down the Jayalalithaa factor.

He had met with the Chief Minister just before arriving in Sri Lanka.

During their visit, the Indian officials also met Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and President's Secretary Lalith Weeratunga.

Menon said they discussed the issue of fishermen of both countries straying into each others' territory and noted that fishermen's associations were in contact with each other to resolve differences.

He said did not touch on the human rights issues raised by India last month when Peiris had visited New Delhi.

New Delhi had called for "genuine reconciliation" and urged Sri Lanka to investigate alleged human rights abuses, a demand made by the West as well as the United nations.

Earlier, Bandula Jayasekera, the Sri Lankan presidential spokesman, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has accepted Rajapaksa's invitation to visit Sri Lanka.

Menon handed over a letter of acceptance of Rajapaksa'a offer by Prime Minister Singh, he said.