NSA Menon in Lanka for high-level talks

Colombo: Issues like reconciliation with minority Tamils are expected to figure prominently in talks National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon will have with the Sri Lankan leadership during his ongoing visit here.

Menon, who arrived here by a special flight just after midnight last night, is scheduled to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his younger brothers Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic development; and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary, officials said.

The NSA, who had served here as India`s High Commissioner, may also seek a meeting with main Tamil party TNA leader Rajavayothi Sampanthan, political sources said. Menon`s visit comes days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Rajapaksa on the margins of the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil.

Although the Indian officials here were tight-lipped about the purpose of the NSA`s visit, Sri Lanka`s commitment towards devolution in line with the 13th amendment to the Constitution is expected to figure at the high level-talks.

Sri Lankan officials yesterday, however, denied speculation that Menon would press for de-escalation of the military presence in the war-ravaged north. India has been urging the Rajapaksa regime to fully implement the 13th amendment as an urgent measure to achieve reconciliation with the Tamil minority.

Rajapaksa has been making varying statements on giving effect to the amendment. Indians are apparently unhappy that an action had failed to follow his words. The government here has been deferring the northern provincial polls despite calls from the global community.

Ahead of Menon`s visit, the media here had reported that he would raise concerns over the anti-Indian stance adopted by some Sri Lankan ministers, demilitarisation of the north and east and follow up action on the UNHRC resolution which India had backed against Sri Lanka.