External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna met his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris here on Tuesday and discussed issues relating to a political settlement which ensures a “sense of participation and equality” among the ethnic groups, said senior Indian officials.
This is Peiris' first foreign assignment after becoming the Foreign Affairs Minister in the second Mahinda Rajapaksa government.
Both Ministers discussed the well-being and settlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and noted that they should be expeditiously rehabilitated with dignity and some source of livelihood. India and Sri Lanka will discuss the issue in depth during the scheduled talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr. Rajapaksa on the sidelines of the SAARC summit beginning on Wednesday.
The discussion on IDPs comes against the backdrop of a recent U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report that said Sri Lanka government-led movements of people had started following a three-week pause due to Parliamentary elections and the Tamil New Year. In the first batch, 7,000 returned to Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu districts after the battle with the Tamil rebels ended. Many of the people had returned to areas where there was great destruction.
Sources maintained that there was “no proposal on the table” to add new members. The SAARC had recently added Afghanistan, which belonged to the South Asian region, and any move to include China would “stretch the imagination” as the country is not part of the region.
Besides, all members have to unanimously approve the inclusion of a new member.