Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa would visit India on June 8. This was announced after a meeting between External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna and his Sri Lankan counterpart G. L. Peiris on the sidelines of the G15 summit in Tehran
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa will visit India on June 8 to discuss the development of infrastructure in northern Sri Lanka and resettlement of the internally displaced persons.
India will also discuss proposals relating to the setting up of an additional consulate in Sri Lanka, reviving old communication links and stepping up economic ties.
This emerged during a meeting between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris here on Sunday. Both leaders are here to attend the G-15 summit, a more compact block of developing countries carved out of the Nonaligned Movement (NAM), to advance south-south cooperation.
This would be Mr. Rajapaksa's first visit to India after his re-election as President which was followed by a resounding win for his party in the Parliamentary elections.
With a consulate in Kandy, both countries are now deliberating on another Indian consulate in Jaffna to ensure documented to and fro movement of people between northern Sri Lanka and south India. An agreement could be initialled during Mr. Rajapaksa's visit next month, said government sources. The two sides are also engaged on reviving old communication routes that had been disrupted by the ethnic conflict and Indian assistance in infrastructure building.
On the resettlement of the IDPs, Mr. Peiris made the point that it would be unrealistic to set a deadline for their complete rehabilitation but assured that the Sri Lankan government was doing its best because “they are our people.''
Emerging from the meeting with Mr. Krishna, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister said Colombo had made “considerable progress'' in resettling the IDPs and appreciated India's help in this regard. From three lakh IDPs, the number was now down to 50,000 with 25,000 of those left “moving in and out as they have relatives.''
As a second step, the Sri Lankan government had embarked on the development of the economy of the strife-hit areas.
He said: “It is not a question of resettling them physically but ensuring they have the means of livelihood with a sense of dignity and contentment. So we are focussing on the development of infrastructure, roads, irrigation systems and all that.
“Nothing is more destructive of credibility than setting a deadline and then finding that you can't fulfil it. It is better not to tie yourself to a deadline but work hard in a spirit of goodwill to do it [resettlement] as soon as possible. That is very much the aim of the Sri Lankan government. It is dealing with its own people. Nobody can be more concerned than the Government of Sri Lanka. Of course with the help of India we will do the best we can for people who have suffered so much.''