Top Indian delegation in Colombo, to meet Rajapaksa (Second Lead)

June 20th, 2008 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, June 20 (IANS) A high-level Indian team led by National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan arrived here Friday amid intense speculation in political and media circles about the nature of the mission. Accompanying Narayanan on a special flight from New Delhi were Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh. The three officials between them virtually determine India’s policy vis-a-vis Sri Lanka.

They flew in around 11.30 a.m. on a two-day visit, an Indian diplomat told IANS. They were flown from the Katunayaka airport outside Colombo to the national capital by a helicopter.

The Indian officials will meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa Saturday morning, said the diplomat who did not want to be named.

“They are expected to exchange views on matter of mutual interest and issues related to the upcoming SAARC summit,” said the source, referring to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit that opens here Aug 1. The diplomat gave no further details.

An official of the Presidential Secretariat confirmed that Rajapaksa would meet the Indian delegation Saturday but played down the importance of the visit, calling it a “regular one”.

“Their visit is part of the ongoing consultation between Sri Lanka and India on the current developments,” the official said, in an obvious reference to the conflict raging in Sri Lanka.

The official pointed out that a Sri Lankan delegation comprising Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the president’s secretary Lalith Weeratunga and presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa went to New Delhi in late 2007.

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