Lanka must solve Tamil issue politically: India

Colombo: Keen to see the decades-old ethnic crisis resolved, India today told Sri Lanka that the "most important" issue before it was to come out with a political solution that fulfills the aspirations of the minority Tamils.

The position of India, which has been pitching for devolution of powers to Tamil-dominated areas, was articulated by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna during his meeting with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa this morning.

During a 90-minute breakfast meeting, Krishna and Rajapaksa discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations that also included the political solution to end the ethnic crisis in the country. The discussions focussed primarily on the resettlement of Tamil civilians displaced due to the three-decade-old war that ended in May 2009 with the killing of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran in a military operation.

Krishna told Rajapaksa that political settlement of Tamils and a solution that answers the aspirations of the Tamil community was the "most important" issue that stands to be resolved, the sources told PTI.

Krishna, who met Rajapaksa on his arrival on Monday at a Thaipongal reception, also discussed other issues of mutual concern. The two leaders also reviewed the process of relief and rehabilitation of Tamil civilians displaced due to the war.

The President, clad in a safari suit, warmly welcomed Krishna at his chamber who was accompanied by Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G L Pieris.

Krishna will also meet Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and hold discussions with his counterpart Peiris later in the day during which he will also sign a MoU for construction of 49,000 houses for resettled Tamils in northern Lanka.

During the talks, Krishna is expected to press for an early political solution to the Tamil problem and review the developmental projects being implemented by India with regard to relief and rehabilitation of the Tamils displaced due to the three-decade war that ended in 2009.

Krishna had on Monday said that India was committed to ensuring political settlement, including devolution of powers, to resolve the problem. The Minister gave the assurance to a delegation from the Tamil National Alliance, an umbrella grouping of Tamil political parties in the country, and also told them that he would raise all issues that concern Tamil people with the Sri Lankan leadership.