Krishna heads to Sri Lanka, devolution tops agenda

New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna heads to Sri Lanka Monday on a three-day visit that will focus on pushing the reconciliation and devolution process in the island nation.

Krishna is expected to hold wide-ranging talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris and call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
In his discussions, Krishna is expected to reiterate the imperative need to find a lasting political solution to the decades-old ethnic Tamil issue that has been a source of conflict and instability in Sri Lanka.
He is expected to impress upon Sri Lanka leaders the need to take concrete steps for “genuine national reconciliation” and a lasting political settlement in Sri Lanka.
He will also meet representatives of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and elicit their views on the progress in their talks with Colombo over the proposed devolution of powers to the regions.
TNA has been pushing for land and police powers in the provinces. Although Rajapaksa has made it clear that the government will not devolve these powers to the regions in line with the 13 Amendment to the Constitution, his government has indicated its willingness to discuss the issue.
Early this week, Rajiva Wijesinha, the advisor on reconciliation to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said here that a separate ministry for reconciliation, with responsibilities of implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) should be set up.
Krishna will also review progress in an India-assisted project for building 50,000 houses in war-ravaged north for internally-displaced people. He will go to Galle to inaugurate the Southern Railway Project, which has been renovated with India’s concessional line of credit.
The issue of fishermen straying into each other’s territory will also figure in the discussions. Ahead of Krishna’s visit to Colombo, a joint working group of fisheries met in Colombo during which India agreed to work on faster repatriation of Sri Lankan fishermen who get stranded in Indian waters.