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India urges Sri Lanka to expedite resettlement, genuine reconciliation

K.V. Prasad

— PHOTO: PTI/ Vijay Verma

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris during a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday.

NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday urged Sri Lanka to expeditiously implement steps to ensure the resettlement and genuine reconciliation, including early return, of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their homes, restoration of normality in affected areas, and to redress the humanitarian concerns of affected families.

New Delhi conveyed this to Colombo during the delegation-level talks led by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris here on Monday.

The Indian side also expressed serious concern over continued violence against its fishermen in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, a joint statement issued on Tuesday said.

Professor Peiris was on a three-day visit to India during which he called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

National Security Adviser Shivshanker Menon and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao called on the visiting dignitary.

Professor Peiris reiterated his government's commitment to address issues related to resettlement and reconciliation in a focused and progressive manner. He referred to the work of the ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission' and steps taken by the Inter-Agency Advisory Committee in implementing the interim recommendations of the committee on a few issues.

He affirmed Sri Lanka's commitment to ensuring expeditious and concrete progress in the ongoing dialogue between the government and representatives of the Tamil parties.

“A devolution package, building upon the 13th Amendment, would contribute to creating the necessary conditions for such reconciliation,” the statement said.

Later addressing the media, Professor Peiris said the Sri Lankan government has had six rounds of talks with Tamil representatives and had begun to address substantive issues on devolution of power.

The government, he said, has proposed a bi-cameral legislature to share power at the Centre since 50 per cent of Tamils live outside the northern part of Sri Lanka. The Tamil representatives have also given some proposals to the government, to which it would respond. “It is an ongoing dialogue,” he said.

Professor Peiris explained why Sri Lanka did not agree with the United Nations Panel report on the war against the LTTE, and charged it contained several contradictions.

He reiterated his government's stand that the report “puts obstacles” in the reconciliation effort among its people.

On the attitude of the large Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, Professor Peiris said the government did not wish to demonise or isolate them but engage them in the process of rebuilding.

On the problems being faced by fishermen from Tamil Nadu, he said the Joint Working Group had been revived to deal with the issue, especially since fishermen in Sri Lanka now had access to marine resources that they had earlier been denied due to the war with the LTTE.

He said the fishing communities of both sides have been in touch, adding that the Sri Lankan Navy has taken a series of measures and put rigid controls on ammunition issued to its personnel.

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