S M Krishna to tour Sri Lanka

Colombo: External Affairs Minister S M Krishna will visit Sri Lanka this month to discuss bilateral ties and security in the region, besides reviewing progress of a massive project undertaken by India for building 50,000 houses in the war-ravaged north for internally-displaced people.

Krishna "is to make an official visit to Sri Lanka on the 16th of this month," the Government Information Department here said today. He will "discuss bilateral relations and security in the region," the department said in a web posting. Krishna is also expected to check on the progress of the housing project undertaken by India in the regions in the island`s north, sources in Sri Lanka`s External Affairs Ministry told PTI.

India has extended assistance for building 50,000 houses for resettlement of the internally-displaced people. The Indian minister is also expected to hold bilateral talks with Sri Lankan leaders, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his counterpart G L Peiris. Tamil party sources, meanwhile, said Krishna would be keen to follow the progress of ongoing talks between the TNA and the government here. The Indian government had last week expressed keenness to see full implementation of Sri Lanka`s 13th amendment to the Constitution on devolution of powers and further efforts as part of the political negotiations towards reconciliation.

Analysts said the Sri Lankan government`s latest statement highlighting its relaxed stance on the Tamil party demand for police and land powers to provinces is being viewed with interest in the light of Krishna`s proposed visit. Cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella, in the statement, said that the government was willing to consider a proposal by the Tamil National Alliance on police and land powers.