Indian delegation was on fact-finding mission: Tamil parties

June 22nd, 2008 - 10:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, June 22 (IANS) The two-day previously unannounced Sri Lanka visit by a high-powered Indian delegation led by National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan was a “serious fact-finding mission”, mainly on the long-drawn ethnic strife, leaders of the former militant Tamil parties said Sunday. “It is for the first time that we have seen a very powerful Indian team comprising its defence secretary, foreign secretary and national security advisor visit Colombo. Based on the discussion I had with them I think they were on a serious fact-finding mission here,” D. Sidharthan, leader of the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) told IANS.

The Indian delegation, including Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa Saturday and met senior officials including Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as well as the army and navy commanders separately.

The Indian officials during their stay here also met R. Sampanthan, the parliamentary group leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which is allied with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and Minister of Social Services Douglas Devananda, who heads the anti-LTTE Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP).

Sidharthan said that the India team expressed concerns that minority Tamil parties were badly split among them, affecting their negotiating position.

“We accept that we are badly divided, but I clearly told them that we are firmly united in believing that only India can help find a lasting political solution to bloody ethnic conflict,” he said, adding that India was keen on a political solution.

According to reports, the visiting Indian officials had a breakfast meeting Saturday with EPDP leader Devananda, who also believes they were here on “a first-hand fact-finding mission”.

“I gave my view on the situation - the past, present and future - and they gave me a patient hearing,” Devananda has been quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, TNA parliamentary group leader R. Sampanthan during his discussions with the Indian delegation reportedly presented a long list of grievances of the Tamil people.

A pro-LTTE website reported that the Indian delegation, after listening to Sampanthan, “invited him and his party members to visit Delhi for further talks”.

Minister Arumugan Thondaman, the leader of the Indian-origin Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC), also paid a courtesy call on the delegation and urged India to invest more to uplift the condition of the people in the plantation sector.

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