Rajapaksa’s brother to visit New Delhi on Tamils’ issue

October 21st, 2008 - 10:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghColombo, Oct 21 (IANS) Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama Tuesday informed parliament that presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa would fly to New Delhi as the government’s special envoy to brief the Indian leaders on the war-related situation in the north of the island. “Presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa would visit New Delhi as a special envoy to brief the Indian leaders on the current situation in Sri Lanka,” Bogollagama told parliament after opposition party members swamped him with questions on the perceived effort by India to stop the war against the LTTE.

The special envoy is President Mahenda Rajapaksa’s younger brother.

Members of the radical Marxist Janatha Vumukthi Peramuna (JVP), and its break-away faction Tuesday demanded an answer from the government as to what Sri Lanka’s response was to the effort by India to stop the ongoing effort by the security forces to wipe out the LTTE.

“There was no pressure from India or any other country to stop the ongoing fight against the LTTE terrorists in the north,” the foreign minister maintained.

He, however, did not revealed the dates of Rajapaksa’s visit to India.

The decision to send a special envoy came a day after India said it would take a decision on External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukerjee’s visit to Colombo after the visit by a Sri Lankan delegation to New Delhi.

“No dates have been set. Nothing is set right now,” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters Monday when asked about dates for Mukherjee’s Colombo visit in the wake of escalating military conflict between the Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tigers that has severely affected Tamil civilians in that country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a telephone conversation with President Rajapaksa Saturday reiterated yet again that there was “no military solution” to the conflict and urged him “to start a political process for a peacefully negotiated political settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka”.

After the telephonic conversation between the two leaders, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Bogollgama had invited Mukherjee “to undertake a visit to Sri Lanka at an early date”.

With 15 MPs of DMK, a key ally of his government and the ruling party of Tamil Nadu, handing over post-dated resignations over the situation in Sri Lanka, Manmohan Singh stressed that “the rights and the welfare of the Tamil community of Sri Lanka should not get enmeshed in the ongoing hostilities against the LTTE”.

This was the second message from the prime minister and the fourth from New Delhi to Colombo within a matter of four days over the situation in Sri Lanka that has stirred a political storm in India with MPs from Tamil Nadu threatening to resign if the violence against civilians was not stopped in Lanka.

The Indian leader also asked Rajapaksa to instruct the Sri Lankan Navy to desist from firing on Indian fishermen and reiterated that the killing of fishermen is “unacceptable”.

President Rajapaksa told local media heads and editors Tuesday that he “was aware of the political pressures in India at the moment, especially considering the reality of coalition politics and the diverse interests that surface in such situations”.

“President Rajapaksa said that the friendly relations between Sri Lanka and India remain very strong. India had always helped us when necessary and supported us in international fora,” the statement from his office said Tuesday.

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