Jaffna: Expressing cautious optimism about the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday said much will depend on a dialogue between the central government and newly elected Tamil lawmakers.
"There is hope with a degree of caution. Fortunately there is no scepticism. There is hope with caution and that is a reasonable attitude," Khurshid said about the reconciliation process after extensive talks with Sri Lankan leaders.
"Essentially it is about encouraging dialogue between the elected provincial representatives and the central government," he said.
Khurshid earlier said India would press for meaningful devolution of powers in Sri Lanka`s provinces to foster a "lasting political settlement" that will ensure equality, justice and self-respect for the Tamil minority.
The issue of reconciliation figured in Khurshid`s talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart GL Peiris and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who said the country`s parliament is the best forum to address the issue of devolving powers to Tamil-inhabited areas.
The Indian minister, during his trip to Jaffna, also met the Northern Province`s first elected Tamil Chief Minister, CV Wigneswaran, who credited India for ensuring the holding of polls in the war-ravaged region.
Referring to Wigneswaran`s swearing in yesterday, he said, "There were good gestures on both sides at the oath-taking ceremony, but there is a lot of hard work to be done step by step. We will be there to help in any way possible."
Khurshid said India is committed to pursuing the full implementation of the 13th amendment for devolution of powers and building on the measure for reconciliation.
He described his talks with Rajapaksa as "open hearted" and "meaningful".
On the issue of Indian fishermen incarcerated in Sri Lanka, Khurshid said only 19 of them were still in custody after 127 were released last week. "I hope the 19 will also be released," he said.
A proposed meeting between fishermen`s representatives would produce "more productive and more lasting" results. "It is too small a issue for the two countries involved but a very big thing for the fishermen involved for this to continue indefinitely," he said, referring to their detention.