Krishna to push for political settlement of Tamil issue

Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will urge Sri Lanka to seek an early political settlement of the Tamil issue during his four-day visit, a ministry official said late Monday.

"Krishna will hold talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris Tuesday on the progress made for national reconciliation of ethnic Tamils through a lasting political soluton, which is acceptable to all communities within the framework drawn," the official said here on arrival of the minister with an official delegation.

The high-level talks will also review the progress made in the reconstruction and development of about 300,000 Tamils housed in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) who survived the three-decade long armed conflict, which ended in May 2009 in the northern provinces of the country.

"Prior to meeting Peiris, Krishna will call on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne to discuss bilateral issues and persuade them to push the reconciliation efforts for a lasting solution to hasten the development process in the strife-torn region," the official asserted.

Though the Sri Lankan government assured India that it would work with the Tamil leadership towards an acceptable solution in the spirit of the 13th amendment to the constitution, devolution of powers, including granting land and police rights have remained contentious issues between the two sides.

"India has welcomed the progress made so far towards the political settlement as mentioned in the 'Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission's (LLRC) report, which recommended a host of measures to help heal the wounds of the conflict and foster a process of lasting peace," the official noted.

During the delegation talks, Krishna will also review the Indian government's programme of assistance to help the IDPs return to normal life at the earliest.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a grant of Rs.5 billion (Rs.500 crore) in June 2009 for relief and rehab of the Tamil-speaking minorities in the aftermath of the prolonged ethnic conflict that claimed thousands of lives.

Krishna, who is on a second visit to the South Asia nation, will Wednesday handover to beneficiaries (IDPs) about 50 housing units, built under the pilot project of 1,000 houses at Nalavadi in Ariyalai near Jaffna, 360km from here.

In all, about 50,000 houses will be built in the northern, eastern and central provinces with a line of credit ($260 million) from India, as announced by Prime Minister Singh during Rajapaksa's visit to New Delhi June 8-11, 2010. 

As external affairs minister, Krishna first visited Sri Lanka in November 2010.
Krishna will also handover about 10,000 cycles to IDPs in Jaffna.

Four agreements on collaborating in rehab process, agriculture, railways and telecommunications will be signed by the officials of the two countries during the visit.

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