PM presses for meaningful devolution, Rajapaksa assures action

June 9th, 2010 - 7:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, June 9 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday urged Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa to initiate a “meaningful devolution package” and called for “urgent steps” to resettle displaced Tamil civilians who continue to remain in relief camps, said Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.
Manmohan Singh held wide-ranging delegation-level talks with Rajapaksa and conveyed India’s concerns over the plight of displaced Tamils and pressed for a political settlement of the Tamil issue.

During the talks, Manmohan Singh conveyed to the Sri Lankan leader that the end of the insurgency in May last year offered “a historic opportunity to spearhead an era of reconciliation”, Rao told reporters after the talks.

“The prime minister also stressed meaningful devolution package, building on the 13st amendment would provide enabling conditions for reconciliation,” said Rao.

Manmohan Singh stressed the need for taking “urgent steps to resettle the remaining IDPs (internally displaced persons)” and speedy steps for their rehabilitation, added Rao.

According to the Sri Lankan government, around 50,000 displaced Tamils continue to live in relief camps over a year after the Sri Lankan troops crushed the insurgency led by Tamil Tigers.

Although the Sri Lankan government promised to resettle all 300,000 war displaced people within six months of defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Sri Lankan government has now set August as the deadline for closure of relief camps housing the refugees.

Rajapaksa, on his part, conveyed to India that his government intended to move forward quickly in regard to achieving a political settlement that would satisfy the aspirations of the minorities, said reliable sources.

He conveyed his desire to seek “an inclusive process” and has begun the process of consultations, said the sources. India sees it as an encouraging development, added the sources.

Rajapaksa arrived in India on a four-day official visit Tuesday evening, his first trip to New Delhi since being re-elected Sri Lanka’s president in January this year.

He began his state visit to India with a ceremonial reception accorded to him at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace.

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