India discusses with Sri Lanka modalities to send relief supply

November 2nd, 2008 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Nov 2 (IANS) Sri Lanka and India have set the ball rolling to implement the agreement arrived at in New Delhi to supply food and other essentials to the war-affected people in the island’s north, diplomatic sources here said.Senior presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa, who was in New Delhi last week and held talks with Indian leaders as the special envoy of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, convened a meeting here Friday to discuss the relief supply situation in the northern Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts.

According to diplomatic sources, Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Alok Prasad attended the meet and “expressed India’s readiness to supply food stocks, tents and other items to displaced people” in the restive north.

“The high commissioner attended this meeting Friday and discussed about the modalities to send the relief supply to the war-displaced people. The details are being worked out,” an Indian diplomat here told IANS Sunday.

He refused to divulge further details of the meeting.

The agreement to send Indian food and relief material to the war-displaced people in the north was reached Oct 26 during Basil Rajapaksa’s visit to New Delhi, following his discussions with India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.

A joint-statement issued at the end of Rajapaksa’s visit stated that India has decided “to send around 800 tonnes of relief material to Sri Lanka for the affected civilians in the north as a gesture of goodwill”.

“The government of Sri Lanka will facilitate the delivery. Both sides agreed to consult and cooperate with each other in addressing these humanitarian issues,” the joint statement said.

According to the UN, about 200,000 people have been internally displaced due to escalation of clashes between the advancing government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the north.

Sri Lanka’s Essential Services Commissioner S.P. Divaratne has said that there was “no urgency in dispatching food stocks” for the internally displaced people as there were adequate stocks in hand in the Wanni areas.

The World Food Program (WFP) has transported food stocks on three occasions to the Wanni region last month and the next WFP food convoy, consisting of 29 trucks carrying over 400 tonnes of food and other essential items, is expected to be sent Monday.

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