No India pressure on Tamil problem: Lanka

Sri Lanka today said the relationship between New Delhi and Colombo was "strong”.

Updated: Jun 13, 2010, 18:26 PM IST

Colombo: Sri Lanka today said the
relationship between New Delhi and Colombo was "strong," as it
dismissed suggestions that there was "pressure" from New
Delhi" for an early political solution to the Tamil ethnic
problem during the visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris said Sri Lanka
is following an independent policy and there is no pressure on
us.

"There was no pressure from India. India did not
pressurise us and Sri Lanka is following an independent policy
with help from India," Peiris told reporters.

"The ties between India and Sri Lanka are strong,"
Peiris said, as he described the four-day landmark visit of
Rajapaksa to India as "successful".

Asked about the talks the President had with MPs from
Tamil Nadu, the foreign minister said they discussed the 13th
constitutional amendment, the political solution and economic
aspects.

The Minister said, among other things, India would
provide assistance to the tune of USD 250 million for
construction of 50,000 houses for IDPs in the North and
Eastern part of the country.

The joint declaration issued at the end of Rajapaksa?s
visit referred to the major initiative to undertake a
programme of construction of 50,000 houses for IDPs in the
Northern and Eastern Provinces.

The President of Sri Lanka warmly welcomed the offer
of Indian support for this programme, it said.

India is also extending about USD 800 million as
credit for railway projects, Peiris said. It may be recalled
that India is also providing Rs 500 crore as assistance for
the upliftment of the IDPS.

India has expressed its willingness to contribute to
the reconstruction process through support in various areas.
This includes reviving agriculture, for rebuilding schools,
housing and civil infrastructure, for rehabilitating war
widows, constructing the cultural centre in Jaffna, setting up
vocational training centres and restoring the Duriappa Stadium
in the city.

Peiris said India would also extend assistance for the
rehabilitation of Palaly Airport and Kankesanthurai harbour in
Jaffna. He said the work at the harbour would start by the end
of this month.

He said the visit from June 7 was a good opportunity
for the Sri Lankan President to interact with senior Indian
leaders, including his Indian counterpart Prathiba Patil and
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

PTI