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Menon, Nirupama to hold talks with Sri Lankan officials

[Hindu, Monday, 6 June 2011 20:17 No Comment]

Two top Indian officials will visit Sri Lanka later this week to discuss, among other things, the progress in the reconciliation process in north Sri Lanka, and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Expert Panel Report on Accountability in Sri Lanka.

National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao — who have served in Sri Lanka as High Commissioners — will hold consultations with their Sri Lankan counterparts over the steps for a lasting peace in Sri Lanka, officials here said.

They will seek to impress upon Colombo that the way forward is outlined in two joint statements — one between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in May 2009, and the other, the May 17, 2011 joint statement issued after talks between Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris and his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna, in New Delhi.

The Krishna-Peiris statement said “a devolution package, building upon the 13th Amendment, would contribute towards creating the necessary conditions for such reconciliation … The External Affairs Minister of India urged the expeditious implementation of measures by the Government of Sri Lanka, to ensure resettlement and genuine reconciliation, including early return of Internally Displaced Persons [IDPs] to their homes, early withdrawal of emergency regulations, investigations into allegations of human rights violations, restoration of normalcy in affected areas and redress of humanitarian concerns of the affected families.”

Mr. Menon and Ms. Rao face the uphill task of getting the Sri Lankan establishment to act on the joint statement. The statement has been widely criticised by the Sri Lankan nationalist Opposition parties and the mainstream press since then. They have accused Professor Peiris of buckling to Indian pressure and signing the statement. Some political commentators have questioned the rationale and basis of the 13th Constitutional Amendment, which was pushed by India in 1987, and condemned the Indian intervention to have this revived.

Troika

The National Security Adviser and the Foreign Secretary form part of a high-level three-member team, the troika, established during the 2006-09 Eelam War IV, for India and Sri Lanka to keep in touch on a regular basis. On the Indian side, the Defence Secretary completed the troika.

The Sri Lankan team is headed by the President’s brother and Economic Development Minister, Basil Rajapaksa. It includes another brother and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga.

Basil visits India

[Full Coverage]

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