India has welcomed the relaxation of movement restrictions that had been imposed on the displaced Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka. It has also expressed the hope that the resettlement process could be expedited, especially in Killinochchi and Mullaithivu, so that the Internally Displaced Persons could resume normal lives in their original places of habitation.

A press statement issued by the Indian High Commission here at the end of Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao's visit to Sri Lanka said that during her interaction with President Mahinda Rajapaksa she conveyed these sentiments to him.

Ms. Rao was here on a three-day visit on Sri Lanka's invitation for interaction on a range of issues of mutual interest. Her visit came days after External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told the Rajya Sabha that the war in Sri Lanka was over but the search for a political settlement was continuing.

The Foreign Secretary congratulated Mr. Rajapaksa on his electoral victory as President on January 26. She underlined the fact that the elimination of terrorism and the holding of elections had provided Sri Lanka with a historic opportunity to initiate a process of political reconciliation where all communities can live in peace and harmony.

The Foreign Secretary said she had formally invited the President to visit India, and he had agreed to come to India after the April 8 general elections in Sri Lanka. According to official sources, the dates of his visit would be worked out in due course.

Ms. Rao met the Foreign Minister, the Foreign Secretary, Senior Adviser to the President Basil Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and the Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga. She also interacted with representatives of leading political parties including Tamil and Muslim parties.

The Foreign Secretary announced India's decision to enhance its contribution to the corpus of the India-Sri Lanka Foundation.


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