Kilinochchi to be developed with India’s help: Minister

January 14th, 2009 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiColombo, Jan 14 (IANS) While stepping up its “fight to finish” campaign against the Tamil Tiger rebels in their last major bastions in Mullaitivu district, Sri Lanka has said that the rebels’ former politico-administrative hub Kilinochchi would be developed fast with the assistance of the Indian government.Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene has said that the development of the recently recaptured Kilinochchi “would begin soon with the assistance of India” while more assistance would be sought from other countries to develop the war-devastated district in the north.

According to Colombo-based Daily Mirror newspaper, Minister Abeywardene has told a news conference Tuesday that preliminary discussions on developing Kilinochchi had already taken place Monday between Senior Presidential Adviser Basil Rajapaksa and Indian High Commissioner Alok Prasad.

Claiming that more discussions on developing Kilinochchi would take place soon, the minister has said that the intention of the Rajapaksa government was to develop the North faster than the East.

Registering a New Year victory, Sri Lanka troops captured Kilinochchi town, lying 350 km north of here, Jan 2 after months of fierce fighting. Unable to face a multi-pronged military thrust, the rebels withdrew towards their strongholds in the north-eastern jungle district of Mullaitivu.

When fierce fighting for Kilinochchi was taking place in November last year, India sent 1,680 tonnes of relief assistance, consisting of food, clothing, and personnel hygiene items, and distributed it through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) among the people trapped in the war-zone.

Minister Abeywardene has said that the Indian High Commissioner at this meeting had expressed his satisfaction with the manner in which the relief items sent by the Indian government were distributed.

India’s Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon is scheduled to arrive in Colombo Thursday on a two-day visit. It is not immediately known if the development of Kilinochchi would be discussed.

Although official sources described his visit as “a routine one”, it comes a few days after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi again urged New Delhi “to step up measures” to end to the conflict in Sri Lanka which he said had caused suffering to the Tamil people.

“I will again (request) Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to speed up pro-active moves to solve the (Sri Lankan) problem,” Karunanidhi said in Chennai Monday.

Karunanidhi’s DMK is a key coalition partner of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

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