India urges Sri Lanka to expedite political solution (Lead, Changing dateline)January 18th, 2009 - 4:35 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi/Colombo, Jan 18 (IANS) India Sunday said it has impressed upon Sri Lanka for an early peaceful political settlement in the island nation even as Colombo assured that it was keen to “move rapidly” from military success to finding a viable political solution revolving around more power to the provinces.”President Rajapaksa indicated his desire to rapidly move on from military success to a political solution of Sri Lankan issues,” the external affairs ministry said here Sunday after the two-day visit of Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon to Colombo which ended Saturday.
“The foreign secretary urged early movement towards a peacefully negotiated political settlement in the island, including in the north,” the ministry said.
Menon reiterated India’s long-held position and stressed the need for “a political understanding within the framework of a united Sri Lanka, wherein all communities, including the Tamil community, live in peace and dignity”.
Sri Lanka also reiterated its commitment to fully implementing the 13th amendment and devolving more powers to the provinces.
Menon also conveyed India’s concerns about the humanitarian situation in the northern part of the island nation and stressed on the importance of preventing civilian casualties in the course of military operations.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Menon Saturday held a nearly 90-minute meeting in the central hill district of Kandy and discussed a wide range of bilateral and regional issues.
According to a statement issued by the Sri Lankan government, Rajapaksa briefed Menon on current developments in Sri Lanka “including the military victories being achieved by the Sri Lankan security forces against the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)”.
“President Rajapaksa reiterated that the goal of his government was to find a political solution to the problem of ethnic relations in Sri Lanka, and that he would deal with terrorism firmly and militarily, as the situation required,” it said.
Menon also held talks with Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama Friday and met Ranil Wickremesinghe, the leader of the main opposition United National Party (UNP), and leaders of key Muslim and Tamil parties, including the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Friday.
Coinciding with Menon’s visit, India Friday announced the second instalment of humanitarian assistance amounting to Sri Lankan rupees 40 million for the war-affected Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka’s north.
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Tags: 13th amendment, civilian casualties, ethnic relations, external affairs ministry, humanitarian situation, island nation, liberation tigers of tamil eelam, mahinda rajapaksa, menon, military success, military victories, political settlement, political solution, president mahinda rajapaksa, regional issues, sri lankan government, sri lankan issues, sri lankan president, sri lankan security, tamil community