India expresses displeasure over SL’s failure

India yesterday expressed its displeasure over the failure on the part of the government of Sri Lanka to break the deadlock in the process of evolving a political solution to the national question, to address land issues in the north and to scale down the presence of military, informed sources said yesterday.

India’s National Security Advisor Shiv Sankar Menon, during his one day visit to Sri Lanka held talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa over various issues.

Particular emphasis was laid on the political solution. Mr. Menon said that his government had increasingly come under domestic compulsions over the impasse in working out a political solution to Tamil speaking people here. During the visit of the Indian parliamentary delegation to Sri Lanka in April, Lok Sabha opposition leader Sushma Swaraj stressed that the stalemate in talks between the TNA and the government should be broken anyhow, and the two sides should resume political talks. Also, she said that the TNA should be persuaded to join the proposed parliamentary select committee if the government considers it as the only viable forum to resolve the problem.

However, Mr. Menon reportedly raised India’s concerns yesterday over the failure on the part of the government and the TNA to find a way forward.

After the meeting, he briefed Indian journalists based in Colombo and said, “I discussed recent developments, bilateral relations and areas of common concern.  I was also briefed about steps being taken by the Government of Sri Lanka on political reconciliation and settlement. While this is a Sri Lankan issue and something that Sri Lanka has to do, we will continue to remain engaged with all concerned and offer any support required in this regard.

“India has always stood for a united Sri Lanka within which all citizens can live in equality, justice, dignity and self-respect.  We have worked closely with the Government of Sri Lanka on relief, rehabilitation and resettlement of IDPs.  India’s assistance was appreciated by the Sri Lankan leadership in all my meetings.  We remain committed to continue our cooperation.”

TNA leader R. Sampanthan told the Daily Mirror that he saw this visit as a further step in India’s involvement in getting a political solution to the ‘Tamil speaking people’.  He said he discussed with Mr. Menon the reasons for the collapse of bipartisan political talks, and the issue over the participation in the select committee.

“We do not want to sound rigid in this case. We want the select committee to function purposefully and meaningfully. Yet, there are matters concerning us. They cannot be disposed of in a flippant way,” he said. (Kelum Bandara)

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