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Indian ‘troika’ holds talks with Sri Lankan officials

[Hindu, Saturday, 11 June 2011 09:42 No Comment]

An Indian government delegation, led by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, held broad-ranging discussions with Sri Lankan officials on outstanding issues, including the progress in rehabilitation of Tamils in the Northern Province.

The delegation, including Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, which arrived here on Friday morning, met Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L.Peiris and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. It also had a second session with Prof. Peiris, authoritative sources said.

The delegation would meet a few representatives of Tamil parties and President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday before returning to New Delhi. The troika, or a group of three senior officials on both sides, was created during Eelam War 1V (2006-09) to keep either side informed of compelling issues and sort out misunderstandings.

Mr. Gotabaya, while addressing a seminar on defeating terrorism here recently, held that one factor that assured the success of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was managing international pressure, particularly that of India. Of those who formed the troika from the Indian side that was “managed” by Sri Lanka, only Mr. Menon remains.

He was part of the troika then in his capacity as Foreign Secretary, and now as National Security Adviser.

India’s concerns, as articulated by Mr. Menon in the U.S. embassy cable (203792: confidential April 23, 2009), accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks, remain almost the same: the only difference now is that most internally displaced persons have been resettled. In that cable, Mr. Menon, then Foreign Secretary, is said to have told U.S. embassy Charge d’affaires Peter Burleigh that India did not see a sense of urgency on the part of the Sri Lankan government in starting plans for reconstructing the north and allowing internally displaced persons to return to their lands or re-establish a “normal” existence.

Furthermore, Mr. Menon told Mr. Burleigh on May 15, 2009 that the Sri Lankan government had reassured India that “the government would focus on the implementation of the 13th Amendment Plus as soon as possible.” (207268: confidential May 15, 2009). But, the cable notes, “Menon was sceptical.”

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