Rajapaksa denies Indian pressure over Tamil issue
Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday denied that he had come under pressure from India to offer the minority Tamils a political solution, saying that any settlement to the matter will have to be approved by the Parliament.
"There was no pressure from India on the 13th amendment of thirteen plus," Rajapaksa told reporters.
Responding to a query on the visit by Indian National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, he said the Indians had only discussed with him routine bilateral issues.
The Indian officials visited Colombo early this month in the backdrop of a call by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to impose economic sanctions on Sri Lanka.
Rajapaksa said Menon had indicated to him the proposal made by his own Cabinet minister Douglas Devananda on the need for Sri Lankan Parliament to thrash out the question of a political solution to the island`s ethnic question.
He said appointing a parliamentary select committee on the ethnic question was not a delaying tactic.
"Any solution that comes up will have to be approved in Parliament," the President said. "I will back any solution approved by Parliament".
"While having talks with political parties (with Tamil National Alliance) we can have PSC talks at the same time. If we wait for political party talks to end and then have PSC discussions, this will cause delays," he said.
The President said the election for the northern provincial council will be held "next year".
He wanted the parties to start preparing for the polls which will be the first ever for the council since separated from the east in the supreme court ordered demerger of 2007.
On the present international campaign against Sri Lanka by the UN and other western nations, he said it was to be countered by submitting two separate reports.
They will deal with the humanitarian nature of the government’s military campaign that ended in May 2009 and the military aspects of it.
External Affairs Minister GL Peiris, who was also present, said that not all countries were opposed to Sri Lanka despite the UN special panel report which accused Colombo of war crimes.
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