B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that his government remains committed to the resettling and rehabilitating the nearly three lakh war displaced in the north of the country in the shortest possible time.

The issue of the war displaced, conditions in the relief centres and the need for reconciliation among all communities were discussed at the bilateral meeting between Mr. Rajapaksa and Mr. Ban on the sidelines of the 15th NAM Summit at Sharm-El-Sheikh in Egypt.

Mr. Rajapaksa told Mr. Ban it had only been eight weeks since the liberation of Tamil civilians from the LTTE and that the government had demonstrated it was doing its best to ease conditions in the relief centres and they would improve further day by day.

Mr. Rajapaksa told Mr. Ban the war displaced would not be kept in these centres for any longer than was necessary. He said clearing of landmines and setting up of proper infrastructure facilities for resettlement and rehabilitation were the factors.

On reconciliation, Mr. Rajapaksa informed Mr. Ban it was a priority of the government and work had already been initiated with the All-Party Committee of Development and Reconciliation.

“The government was engaged in talks with all sections of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka, as well as the expatriate Tamil community abroad, to achieve reconciliation,” said a statement from the Presidential Secretariat released here.

When Mr. Ban explained that reconciliation was important to the international community, Mr. Rajapaksa told him Sri Lanka too considered it as a matter of great importance.

On the issue of U.N. personnel in the relief centres who had not been released, Mr. Rajapaksa said delay was mainly owing to the U.N. not supplying a complete list of such persons.