India to send special envoys to Sri Lanka: Mukherjee

May 19th, 2009 - 9:44 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) With Sri Lanka’s military offensive against the Tamil Tigers coming to an end, India said Tuesday it would send send special envoys to Colombo and is also preparing a Rs.500 crore (Rs.5 billion) package to help in the rehabilitation of Tamil civilians displaced in the fighting.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, reacting to the news of the end of the military operation in Sri Lanka, told reporters that while “the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons” (Tamil civilians) was urgently required, India was also looking at the Sri Lankan government to ensure a “political solution to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of the ethnic minorities including the Tamils”.

Stating that the “the immediate task would be the rehabilitation of the IDPs”, he said: “A package of Rs.500 crore which will be required for rehabilitation is under preparation. When our special envoys will be visiting Sri Lanka shortly, they will discuss it in detail.”

He pointed out that Rs.45 crore out of an earlier aid package of Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 billion) has already been spent. The Tamil Nadu government has also announced relief aid of Rs.25 crore.

Mukherjee added that India has always been in favour of a “political solution” to the ethnic crisis. “Political solution includes devolution of power, participation in election and have the full rights of citizen of Sri Lanka. Of course, while maintaining the territorial integrity and within the framework of the Sri Lankan constitution,” he said.

Mukherjee noted that he had already spoken to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Monday, after the official announcement of the killing of Tamil Tigers chief Velupillai Prabhakaran. India had released its formal statement Monday.

“India will work with the people and government of Sri Lanka to provide relief to those affected by the tragic conflict, and to rapidly rehabilitate all those who have been displaced, bringing their lives to normalcy as soon as possible,” the external affairs ministry spokesperson, Vishnu Prakash said.

“It is our view that as the conventional conflict in Sri Lanka comes to an end, this is the moment when the root causes of conflict in Sri Lanka can be addressed.

“This would include political steps towards the effective devolution of power within the Sri Lankan constitution so that Sri Lankans of all communities, including the Tamils, can feel at home and lead lives of dignity of their own free will,” the spokesperson added.

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