India asks Lanka to keep pledge given on 13A
Colombo: India today called for early political settlement and national reconciliation through the meaningful devolution of power in Sri Lanka and asked it to adhere to the commitments made to the international community, including Indian government.
This was conveyed by National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon during his meetings with the Lankan leadership, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
"India wishes to ensure that all citizens of Sri Lanka, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, would lead a life marked by equality, justice, dignity and self-respect," a Indian High Commission statement said.
"In this context, he (Menon) also emphasised the need for adhering to the commitments made by the Sri Lankan government to India and the international community on a political settlement in Sri Lanka that would go beyond the 13th Amendment", the statement said.
As per the 13th amendment that followed the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord of July 1987, Sri Lankan government had agreed to devolve some authority to the provinces.
India has repeatedly emphasised to Sri Lanka on the need to fully implement the constitutional provision dealing with devolution of powers to provinces without dilution and to go beyond it to ensure meaningful development there.
Commenting on the elections in the north, Menon has also expressed the hope that elections would be held in a free, fair and credible manner.
Menon, who has served in Colombo as the Indian High Commissioner in the past, is visiting Sri Lanka with a six-member delegation at the invitation its foreign ministry.
Menon called on the Sri Lankan President and also held bilateral meetings with Minister for Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
India and Sri Lanka had expressed satisfaction on the progress in implementation of the Indian-assisted projects for relief, rehabilitation and resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons, including the Housing Project, as well as projects relating to the development of railway infrastructure in the Northern and Southern Provinces, the statement said.
They also discussed the fishermen issue and agreed on the need to deal with it in a humane manner without resorting to violence under any circumstances.
They agreed that fishermen's associations on both sides, which had met in the past and reached some understandings, needed to meet again to work on developing this further.
This could then serve as the basis for finding a solution to this humanitarian issue. Meanwhile, the Tamil political sources were quoted as saying by the independent Tamil daily 'Thinakkural' that Menon had told them that New Delhi had urged Colombo not to tinker with the 13A.
'Virakesari', the Tamil daily with the largest circulation here, said that Menon had assured that New Delhi would not consent to any amendments to the 13A.
Tamil National Alliance (TNA), country's main Tamil party, has said it will not take part in the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) proceedings to review the 13A, saying it has been convened to strip provincial council of powers.