Krishna to hand over houses to Tamils in Jaffna

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna will visit Colombo, Jaffna, Kilinochi and Galle.

New Delhi: The first set of houses built by India in Jaffna for ethnic Tamils will be handed over when External Affairs Minister SM Krishna travels to Sri Lanka
tomorrow for a four-day visit during which the steps for their rehabilitation and political reconciliation will be discussed.

At least four pacts are expected to be signed covering areas like housing, railways, agriculture and telecom, sources told a news agency here today.
Krishna will meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister DM Jayaratne besides holding extensive talks with his counterpart GL Peiris. He will also meet the Leader of Opposition and leaders of Tamil National Alliance and Sri Lankan Muslim Congress.

He will visit Colombo, Jaffna, Kilinochi and Galle. He will also visit the Indian Peacekeeping Force Memorial located outside Colombo.

Considering that the visit is taking place just after the unveiling of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission`s report, Krishna is expected to impress upon the Sri Lankan leadership the need for taking steps for its expeditious implementation so that the momentum is not lost, the sources said.

The Commission which went into the war between the Army and the LTTE, has come out with recommendations for enduring political solutions in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, accountability for alleged war crimes and human rights issue.

India and Sri Lanka are also expected to discuss the process of rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), the ethnic Tamils affected by the two-decade war that ended over two years ago.

In this context, India`s projects of assistance for the IDPs will be taken stock of.

Krishna will travel to Jaffna to hand over 50 houses built for the IDPs, the sources said. Significantly, the minister had laid the foundation stone for these houses a year back. These 50 houses are among 49,000 houses being built by
India for the IDPs.

The Minister will also hand over 10,000 bicycles to the IDPs under the Indian assistance programme. He will also travel to Kilinochchi to hand over medical supplies for IDPs.

The two sides will also review the outcome of the long-awaited Joint Working Group on fisheries, which concluded today.

The two-day meeting, which was led by Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Joint Secretary (BSM) in the External Affairs Ministry, from the Indian side, discussed interim arrangements to avoid alleged harassment of fishermen of Tamil Nadu.

Krishna will also travel to Galle to inaugurate a segment of the Southern Railway Project being built by India, an External Affairs Ministry statement said.

This will possibly be the first visit by any Indian Foreign Minister to that region in south Sri Lanka.