Posted on June 25th, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

A high powered visiting Sri Lankan government delegation reiterated to India Colombo’s determination to resettle the internally displaced persons now living in the Welfare Centers run by the government within six months.

The Sri Lanka government statements contradicted some Western press reports, which said that the displaced Tamils would not be resettled until another year .

India promised substantial help to resettle the people and aid the development schemes that would strengthen the agricultural and fisheries sectors of the Tamils of the North, christened, Uthuru Wasanthaya .

To help the Sri Lanka government to complete the resettlement of the IDP’s, in the 180 days programme India promised to double its current aid to de-mine the Tamil areas, as an essential step for resettlement.

Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa , Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga belonged to the delegation and they met India’s National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, Defense Secretary Vijay Singh and Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna. India’s High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Alok Prasad and Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in India, Romesh Jayasinghe were present at the talks.

A statement issued by thePresidential Secretariat quoted Krishna as stating that India would assist in the resettlement and rehabilitation of the IDP, including de-mining , that would ease the safe and speedy return of the IDP’s to their homes. The Indian help also would include building temporary houses in the welfare villages.

The Indian officials said they would provide fishing and agricultural gear to the Northern fishermen and farmers.

Krishna has also stated that the Sri Lankan delegation had agreed on Indian suggestion to let the ship Captain Ali to off load the relief material the ship was carrying for the IDP’s in Sri Lanka . The ship was earlier ordered to sail out of the territorial waters of Sri Lanka and was anchored at an Indian harbour. The Sri Lanka Navy took the controversial ship out of the Sri Lankan waters.

About 300,000 Tamil IDP’s are now hosted by the government in welfare camps and rehabilitation camps (in case of LTTE cadres) in Northern Jaffna and Vavuniya Districts.

The Sri Lankan delegaton said the negotiations with India were highly successful and the meetings strengthened the bonds between the two South Asian nations.

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