India urges Sri Lanka to move towards early political settlementJanuary 18th, 2009 - 1:11 pm ICT by IANS
Colombo, Jan 18 (IANS) Announcing India’s intention to provide further assistance of relief material for the civilians trapped in Sri Lanka’s northern war zone, visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon has “urged early movement towards a peacefully negotiated political settlement in the island, including in the north”.The Indian foreign secretary, who left for New Delhi Sunday morning, held talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and senior Presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa during his two-day stay in Colombo.
The Indian High Commission here in a statement Sunday said that Menon’s discussions with President Rajapaksa “covered bilateral relations, the situation in Sri Lanka and developments in the region”.
President Rajapaksa has indicated “his desire to rapidly move on from military success to a political solution of Sri Lankan issues”, while the Indian foreign secretary has reiterated the importance of a political understanding within the framework of a united Sri Lanka, wherein all communities, including the Tamil community, live in peace and dignity.
“In this connection, he (Menon) welcomed the Sri Lankan Government’s commitment, reiterated to him during the visit, to fully implement the 13th Amendment and devolve further powers to the provinces,” the High Commission statement said.
In his meetings, the Indian foreign secretary also conveyed India’s concerns at the humanitarian situation in the northern part of Sri Lanka and “the need to ensure the safety and security of the internally displaced civilian population.”
“He underlined the importance of preventing civilian casualties as a result of ongoing hostilities. The foreign secretary announced India’s intention to provide further assistance of relief material consisting of medicines and shelter material,” the statement said.
The discussions between the two sides also touched upon the present global economic situation and, in that context, both sides decided to consider ways to further deepen and strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation for mutual benefit.
The President’s office in a statement on the meeting with Menon, said Saturday that the visiting foreign secretary has “reaffirmed India’s cooperation with Sri Lanka in the attempts to eliminate terrorism from Sri Lanka and the region, and observed that at present the relations between India and Sri Lanka have never been so close, so warm and so deep”.
Menon also met the leader of the main opposition United National Party (UNP), Ranil Wickremesinghe and leaders of key Muslim and Tamil parties, including the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in Colombo Friday.
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Tags: 13th amendment, basil rajapaksa, bilateral relations, civilian casualties, civilian population, defence secretary, humanitarian situation, indian high commission, mahinda rajapaksa, menon, military success, northern war, peace and dignity, political settlement, political solution, relief material, sri lankan government, sri lankan issues, tamil community, war zone