B. Muralidhar Reddy
New Delhi’s stance conveyed to Rajpaksa
Solution possible within framework of a united Sri Lanka
Team briefed on efforts to forge consensus
COLOMBO: New Delhi on Saturday expressed hope that Colombo would find a peaceful solution to the ethnic conflict within the framework of a united Sri Lanka and reiterated its position that there was no military solution to the strife.
The Indian viewpoint was articulated by the Indian team represented by National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh in a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
As per an agreement between the two sides, all the meetings of the Indian team were held away from the media glare and even the President’s Office chose not to release the customary handshake photograph. There was no official statement on the visit.
A senior Indian official told Indian journalists that the team held in-depth discussions with senior Sri Lanka government officials on a issues of bilateral interest including the current security situation in the country against the backdrop of the war in the north between the forces and the LTTE as well as matters related to the SAARC Summit scheduled here in August.
“It is a very successful visit. The nature of discussions was constructive and useful,” was how the Indian official visit summed up the outcome of series of meetings between the Indian team and their Sri Lankan counterparts.
Among those with whom the Indian side held extensive talks were Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Sri Lankan President, Defence Secretary Gothabhaya Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa, Senior Adviser to the President, and the service commanders.
Besides, the team exchanged views with representatives of three Tamil parties. These were the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) leader and Minister, Arumugam Thondaman, PLOTE leader Dharmalingam Siddarthan and pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance Parliamentary Leader, R. Sampanthan.
In addition to the situation on the ground in the battle scarred north, the issue of fisher folk straying into the territorial waters of each other’s countries and the preparations for the forthcoming SAARC Summit figured prominently in the talks.
The Sri Lankan side gave a detailed briefing on the efforts being made by the President to forge a consensus within the country on a solution to the ethnic conflict acceptable to all sides, the commitment on the part of the regime for full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution pertaining to devolution of powers to provinces and the recent election to the Eastern Provincial Council.