Special Correspondent

  • It will comprise rice, sugar and milk powder
  • Foreign Secretary to visit Sri Lanka

    CHENNAI: The Centre was despatching essential commodities to Sri Lanka taking into consideration the situation in the northern and eastern parts of the island nation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a letter to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi. The letter, dated November 11 and released to the press by the State Government on Thursday, said 5,200 tonnes of rice, 1,500 tonnes of sugar and 300 tonnes of milk powder would form part of the humanitarian assistance from India.

    The Prime Minister's letter was in reply to a letter written by Mr. Karunanidhi's letter,earlier. Union Minister T.R. Baalu had handed over the letter in which Mr. Karunanidhiwhich highlighted the killing of hundreds of Tamils in Sri Lanka and said that it was time for a "rethink."

    "We are making known our deep concern and anguish at the recent spurt of violence in Sri Lanka which has resulted in civilian casualties among the Tamil population. We will reiterate to the Government of Sri Lanka, as we have repeatedly done in the past, that there is no military solution to the problem in Sri Lanka and the only way out is a negotiated political settlement that would accommodate the genuine rights of the Tamils through a process of devolution of powers," he said.

    Dr. Singh said that India's interest in a solution to the ethnic problem that protected the Tamil citizens within the framework of a united and federal Sri Lanka was "deep and continuous."

    But at this point, the priority was to ensure humanitarian standards so that civilian casualties were prevented.

    The Prime Minister said that Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon would visit Colombo to "convey to the Sri Lankan government our concerns and the need to provide Tamils of Sri Lanka the same rights and privileges as are granted to all other citizens of the State. I also propose to convey this to President Rajapaksa in an appropriate fashion when I next meet him."

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