India’s top diplomats in Lanka and Norway swap places as peace talks near

By Shamindra Ferdinando

India’s ambassador in Norway Mr. Nirupam Sen will succeed his country's High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Mr. Gopalkrishna Gandhi in the first week of August, an Indian diplomatic source said yesterday.

"Mr. Gandhi will be leaving Colombo after completing his two-year term here," the source said, adding that he would be taking over the mission in Oslo. There would not be any other changes at the High Commission here.

Last December Mr. Mohan Kumar replaced the Deputy High Commissioner S. Triparthi.

Foreign Ministry sources confirmed the appointment of Sen who had been here during the deployment of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in the north-east to implement the Indo-Lanka agreement signed in July 1987.

The confirmation comes a day after Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe returned following a four day official visit to New Delhi and Chennai where he discussed a range of issues relating to the Norwegian-brokered peace process as well as economic relations with the Indian leadership.

Mr. Sen is expected in Colombo within weeks after the government and the LTTE sit down for talks in Thailand in late July.

"He was the deputy to Mr. J. N. Dixit" another Indian source said, adding that he was recalled to New Delhi before the end of the term following a dispute with Mr. Dixit over the handling of the JVP. The source said that Sen wanted to keep in touch with the JVP despite the organisation carrying out a bloody campaign against the Indian involvement here while the High Commissioner took entirely a different stance. However, Indian authorities obviously kept in touch with the JVP and this was revealed when JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe returned home last year to campaign at the last parliamentary elections.

The JVP leader publicly claimed that Indian authorities helped him to escape when the then UNP government was hunting for JVPers.