In meetings marking the first substantive discussions between India and Sri Lanka in over two years, New Delhi raised the issue of devolution of powers to the island nation’s Tamil provinces once again.
The issue was raised during meetings between visiting Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Thursday evening. The PM raised the issue of devolution of powers so that Sri Lankan Tamils can look forward to a future where they can live with dignity and respect, said sources.
Earlier, the Lankan President, whose visit comes amidst the backdrop of strident protests against it by Tamil parties, the DMK and MDMK, held discussions lasting about 45 minutes with President Pranab Mukherjee.
The Sri Lankan leader’s visit — initially meant to be a private one to inaugurate a Buddhist university in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh, but accorded official status later — has come in the backdrop of the island nation’s unhappiness with India’s vote against it at the UNHRC (UN Human Rights Council) in March.
India supported a US-backed resolution censuring Sri Lanka for its human rights record during the bloody civil war with the LTTE. President Rajapakse later made clear his displeasure stating that there may not have been such a resolution had India not backed it. Given Sri Lanka’s growing bilateral ties with China — the two countries have inked 16 agreements on Wednesday — New Delhi will be hoping that Mr Rajapakse’s visit will help put some balm on Colombo’s feelings.
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