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Sri Lanka must devolve powers in ‘very visible manner’: SM Krishna

India today underlined the need for Sri Lanka to devolve powers to Tamil-dominated provinces envisaged under a key constitutional amendment in a “very visible manner” to fulfill the political aspirations of the minority ethnic community.

Wrapping up his four-day visit to Sri Lanka during which he visited the war-ravaged North and Southern parts of the country, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said he was satisfied with the outcome of the talks he had with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and other top leaders in the last few days.

“I think it goes without saying that Article 13 plus (should) be implemented in a very visible manner. So, till then, naturally we will keep looking forward to the implementation of the assurances given to the people of Sri Lanka and during the talks we have had,” he told reporters accompanying him on his way back home.

The Minister was responding to a question whether India was happy with the steps being taken by the Sri Lankan leadership with regard to the political settlement and whether the country feels Colombo should take more steps.

“We are looking forward to the implementation of the Article 13 (which envisages devolution of powers),” said Krishna, who became the first Indian politician to visit the IPKF memorial in Colombo and the former de-facto capital of the LTTE of Kilinochchi in northern Lanka.

The Minister said he was reassured by Rajapaksa that he was committed to implementing the 13th Amendment plus approach to see the ethnic crisis resolved in his country in the wake of doubts expressed by some political parties about the process to find a political solution.

“….Some doubts were expressed by certain Tamil representatives of Sri Lanka and hence it was necessary for me to broach this subject again with the President and it was heartening to learn of his continued commitment to improve on the 13th Amendment in terms of devolution of powers,” Krishna said.

The Minister was apparently referring to leaders of Tamil National Alliance, the main party of the Tamils in Lanka, who have accused the government of not being serious with the talks for a political solution.

He also expressed satisfaction at the progress of developmental projects being implemented by India in Sri Lanka like the housing project which aims at constructing 50,000 houses for resettled Tamils.

Krishna had yesterday handed over 69 houses built under a pilot project and also reviewed the developments works with authorities.

“On the whole I have a sense of satisfaction that all the programmes that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced are being pursued vigorously in Sri Lanka,” he said.
Jan 19, 2012


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