B. Muralidhar Reddy
Co-Chairs concerned over failure to honour commitment on Cease Fire Agreement Shivshankar Menon to discuss India's role in dealing with the crisis
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka Army (SLA) claimed to have killed 27 cadres of the LTTE in three separate "retaliatory attacks" since Thursday in the east even as the island nation geared up for a series of events, beginning on November 20, which could decide the future of the peace process.
The Co-Chairs of Sri Lanka, representing 58 donor countries of the country, are to meet in Washington on November 20 to take stock of the situation in the island nation after the collapse of Geneva-II on October 28 and 29 and stepped up deadly attacks and counter-attacks.
Co-Chairs are particularly concerned over the failure of both sides to honour their commitment on the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) and the adverse impact of the hostilities on civilians.
Close on the heels of the Co-Chairs conference, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon is expected to be here on November 23 to exchange views with his interlocutors on the prevailing situation and role India could play in dealing with the crisis.
In a letter addressed to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh informed that Mr. 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."
On November 25 and 26 Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa is visiting India in his capacity as the chief guest at the Asian Mayors Conference in Dehradun. On the way back to Colombo Mr. Rajapaksa would stop over in New Delhi for talks with the Indian leadership.
Another event on the calendar is the annual `Heroes Day' speech of the LTTE leader, V. Prabhakaran, on November 27. In his 2005 speech Mr. Prabhakaran had urged Mr. Rajapaksa to offer a "reasonable political solution" to the ethnic conflict failing which he had threatened "intensification of struggle for self-determination and political independence."
Unveiling 2007 budget in Parliament on Thursday, which envisages 45 per cent hike in defence outlay, Mr. Rajapaksa had asked LTTE to lay down arms and hold talks with the Government. Tigers have dismissed the offer as a "joke."