India assures Sri Lanka support for Tamil resettlement
Colombo/New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) India Sunday assured Sri Lanka of its support in resettling nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians displaced by the civil war in the island-nation and pushed for a political settlement when Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo.
Rao met Rajapaksa over lunch at Janadhipathi Manidiraya and congratulated him on his landslide victory in the Jan 26 presidential polls.
This was the first high-level contact between New Delhi and Colombo since the Sri Lankan presidential polls.
“She expressed India’s willingness to continue assisting Sri Lanka in the resettlement of the IDPs (internally displaced persons),” an official statement from the Sri Lankan presidential secretariat said in Colombo.
“India was also keen to assist in the complete restoration of the railway line in the north,” it said.
The statement said that in her meeting with Rajapaksa, Rao was of the view that Sri Lanka had made considerable success in resettling the displaced families in the north and the east, with the number now standing at less than 70,000.
In her discussions, Rao stressed the need for a political settlement and devolution of powers to address the aspirations of the Tamil minority, official sources said in New Delhi.
The two sides discussed problems faced by fisherman from both countries, the proposed coal-based power generation project in Trincomalee, and the necessity for understanding between India and Sri Lanka on the protection of the environment and the eco-systems, the statement in Colombo said.
Rao, who had earlier served in Colombo as India’s high commissioner, conveyed an invitation from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Rajapaksa to visit India soon.
India has allocated Rs.500 crore for the relief and rehabilitation of the war-hit Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka.
–Indo-Asian News Service
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