Sri Lanka to resettle refugees with Indian support: Jayasinghe

New Delhi, Aug 29 ( Sri Lanka will work for stronger ties with India and ensure the quick rehabilitation of Tamils displaced in the military conflict, Colombo’s high commissioner Romesh Jayasinghe said after he was named the new foreign secretary.

“The Sri Lankan government stands for the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes, the quick completion of the demining process and the rehabilitation of those displaced by the conflict,” Jayasinghe told Inditop.

The envoy, who takes over as foreign secretary Oct 1, thanked India for its support for Colombo’s efforts to rehabilitate the nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians living in camps after the Tamil Tigers were crushed in May.

“We are confident that with India’s support we will be able to achieve our target,” he said when asked about the six-month deadline set by Colombo to resettle displaced Tamils in their original homes.

Jayasinghe will succeed Palitha Kohona, the current foreign secretary who has been appointed Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York.

An additional secretary of the foreign ministry, Prasad Kariyawasam, who was Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, will succeed Jayasinghe as the envoy in New Delhi.

Besides pledging Rs.500 crore (around $100 million), India is actively assisting Sri Lanka in resettling Tamils, a sensitive issue in Tamil Nadu. Six Indian demining teams are in Sri Lanka’s northeast to make the area secure and habitable for civilians.

Underlining the importance of India in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy calculus, Jayasinghe said that his effort will be to expand relations with New Delhi on all fronts.

“As foreign secretary, it’s my responsibility to follow the policy of the government of Sri Lanka. We will work for closer and stronger relations with India,” he said.

“The relations and understanding between the two countries are already strong. We will build upon it.

“Sri Lanka has a holistic approach to advance relationship with India on all fronts. My effort would be to take this process forward.”