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S M Krishna rules out delegation to Sri Lanka

[Express Buzz, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 10:01 No Comment]

Walking the tight rope on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue in Rajya Sabha on Monday, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna virtually ruled out sending a parliamentary delegation to the island nation that is in the midst of presidential elections.

But, he assured the elders that a memorandum of understanding with the Lankan side to safeguard the interests of Indian fishermen was in the works. “Safety and security of our fishermen is of utmost importance. A MoU on fishing cooperation with Sri Lanka is being attempted.

We would be in a position to help our fishermen very soon,’’ Krishna told the Rajya Sabha, while giving clarifications on his statement on the Lankan Tamils issue.

This almost came as a concession to the members who were adamant about taking a parliamentary delegation to Sri Lanka, primarily, to check out the ‘controversial’ Tamil rehabilitation camps run by Colombo in the northern part of the island.

Krishna said that though the members had a right to know about the situation in the camps, “Sri Lanka is in the middle of a presidential election, their polling is scheduled at the end of January. I do not think, it is the right time to send a delegation there.’’ In the same breath he added, the suggestions that the members have made on the issue of Indian fishermen’s condition are being looked into. “We will work out a permanent solution addressing their problems. A MoU will bring particular relief to our fishermen,’’ he added.

However, he reiterated the Indian government’s longheld position on the 1974-76 Indo-Sri Lankan agreement on the Katchchativu Island.

“It is an international agreement, it cannot be re-negotiated.

We do not propose to re-open or re-negotiate (it),’’ he firmly said.

[Full Coverage]

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