Begins four-day visit to Colombo today

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao is arriving here on Monday on a four-day visit for a first-hand assessment of India's assistance to the nearly three lakh displaced Tamils.

Besides exchanging views with the authorities here on ties between the two nations, Ms. Rao is scheduled to travel to some of the areas where the displaced civilians were resettled as well as the camps that house those awaiting resettlement. Ms. Rao is also expected to call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Nearly 90 per cent of the civilians displaced in the conflict between the Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE, which ended in May last year, were resettled in the areas of their origin. Colombo is committed to completing the process of resettlement by September-end.

Ms. Rao's visit comes close on the heels of the visit of a three-member Sri Lankan delegation, led by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, to New Delhi. Lalitha Weeratunga, Secretary to President, and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa were the other members.

India is closely involved in relief and rehabilitation of the Tamil civilians. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced Rs.500-crore aid for the relief and rehabilitation of the resettled population and gave a commitment to build 50,000 houses for the displaced in the conflict-hit Northern Province.

There have been concerns in Tamil Nadu about utilisation of the Indian assistance for the relief and resettlement of the displaced Tamil civilians. Ms. Rao had called on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi a few days ago.