Battles Over, Indian Envoys in Colombo

Two top Indian officials arrived in Colombo on Wednesday to hold discussions with Sri Lankan authorities on issues pertaining to the rehabilitation and welfare of nearly 2.75 lakh civilians displaced in the government’s “decisive war” against Tiger rebels, New Delhi seeks a political solution to the ethnic conflict in the island nation.

The visit coincides with the formal end of the current round of battles that, according to aid agencies, saw some of the worst rights infringements in recent times.

The two officials – National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon – are likely to meet Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for breakfast on Thursday.

The meeting is likely to be the venue of exchange of views over the humanitarian crisis triggered by the strife.

The President is likely to apprise the visiting officials of his government’s plans to resolve grievances of Tamils.

Both Colombo and New Delhi believe in the need for an early political package to address the legitimate aspirations of ethnic Tamils, who share close family and cultural ties with a sizeable number of people in India.

Addressing the parliament on Tuesday, President Rajapaksa presented a broad framework of how his government plans to bring the Tamils and other minorities into the nation’s mainstream.

He, however, stressed that the country could not work on an “imported solution” and underlined the need for an indigenous strategy acceptable to all sections of the Lankan people.

During the visit, the officials will also apprise Colombo on the INR 500 crore rehabilitation package that New Delhi is preparing for rehabilitation of the war displaced.

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