Manmohan, Rajapaksa discuss Tamil refugees, devolution (Second Lead)

October 15th, 2010 - 7:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) India and Sri Lanka Friday reviewed the process of resettling Tamil refugees in the island nation when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met President Mahinda Rajapaksa here, with New Delhi asking Colombo to act decisively to “win over” its ethnic minority.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted a lunch for Rajapaksa and his delegation, which included Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris and Foreign Secretary C.R. Jayasinghe, at his residence.

Rajapaksa is understood to have told Manmohan Singh about a slew of steps taken by the Sri Lankan government to resettle around 300,000 Tamil civilians displaced in the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), according to official sources.

Rajapaksa also assured Singh about his ongoing efforts to find a political settlement revolving around devolution of powers to minority communities in Sri Lanka.

These issues were also discussed between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris Thursday.

Krishna told a group of journalists Friday that Peiris informed him that only 20,000 out of nearly 300,000 people displaced by the war remained to be resettled.

He stressed that in his discussions with Peiris, he raised the issue of devolution of powers to Tamil-speaking minorities and offered to help in the development of the island nation.

“I did raise the issue of devolution of powers. Now that the parliamentary elections are over, it’s time for the government of Sri Lanka to act decisively and win over the Tamil-speaking Sri Lankans so that their concerns and reservations are taken care of,” he said.

“Once it’s (devolution) is done, they can embark on development agenda. India will fully assist them in this process,” said Krishna, adding that New Delhi hoped that integration will be worked out.

“They (Sri Lanka) agree with this argument. They say their efforts are directed towards it.”

Peiris also discussed the visit of Krishna to Sri Lanka towards the end of this month to see for himself the progress made in rehabilitating the displaced civilians.

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