NSA, Menon to meet Rajapaksa, press for political solution (Lead)May 20th, 2009 - 3:02 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) India will offer to help rehabilitate Tamil civilians and press for “effective devolution” of powers when National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo Wednesday afternoon.
The visit by Narayanan and Menon comes a day after Colombo publicly declared that Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was dead.
“As far as we are aware he is no more, but we will get further confirmation,” Narayanan told reporters when asked about Prabhakaran’s death.
In a telephone conversation with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday, Rajapaksa had confirmed that armed resistance by the LTTE had ended and that Prabhakaran was dead.
Before leaving for Sri Lanka, Narayanan called on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi here to seek his advice.
“I am going to Sri Lanka and I came to seek his (Karunanidhi’s) advice,” Narayanan told reporters after meeting the Tamil Nadu leader in the national capital. “The interests of Tamils will be suitably taken care of.”
With the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka an emotive issue in Tamil Nadu, India’s immediate priority is to ensure that effective steps are taken for the rehabilitation of displaced Tamils and helping the island nation in the task of reconstruction.
When Narayanan and Menon meet Rajapksa, they will also be looking for some kind of assurance on how Colombo plans to integrate Tamil civilians into the political mainstream through a long-overdue devolution of powers.
“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,” the Indian external affairs ministry said Tuesday.
“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 ministry said.
Besides reinforcing medical teams which are already present in the conflict-scarred northern area in Sri Lanka, India plans to send material for 5,000 shelters which will house about 25,000 people.
New Delhi also plans to send de-mining teams to Sri Lanka to help avoid inadvertent civilian casualties, official sources said.