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  • Lankan President Rajapaksa arrives on three-day visit

    New Delhi (PTI): Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived in New Delhi late Tuesday on a three-day visit during which he is expected to apprise Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the steps being taken by his government to safeguard the interests of ethnic Tamils in that country.

    Rajapaksa, who is in New Delhi for the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Summit on Thursday, was received at the airport by Minister of State for Home Shakeel Ahmed.

    His visit assumes significance as it comes close on the heels of political parties in Tamil Nadu demanding India's intervention to stop the ongoing military offensive against LTTE.

    Rajapaksa will meet Singh on Thursday on the sidelines of the BIMSTEC Summit during which the two leaders will review bilateral ties.

    The issue related to ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka and the Devolution Package are expected to figure prominently in the talks.

    Rajapaksa is expected to brief Singh about steps being taken to safeguard the interests of Tamils who are caught in the crossfire between LTTE and the Sri Lankan Army.

    Rajapaksa had in October called Singh and assured him that "all necessary measures" are being taken to ensure safety and well-being of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka.

    The Lankan President had also sent his Special Advisor Basil Rajapaksa to India in October, who held talks with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

    India is expected to ask the Sri Lankan delegation to take adequate measures for unhindered essential relief supplies to the civilians and internally displaced persons caught in the hostilities.

    As a gesture of goodwill, India has decided to send around 800 tonnes of relief material to Sri Lanka for the affected civilians in the north.

    The Government of Sri Lanka will facilitate the delivery. Both sides have also agreed to consult and cooperate with each other in addressing these humanitarian issues.

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