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India will assist all Lankans to lead normal lives – Mukherjee

Mukherjee

Indian Minister of External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee, who was here on a brief visit on Tuesday, told President Mahinda Rajapaksa that India would work together with Sri Lanka to enable all Sri Lankans, particularly the Tamil community, which had borne the brunt of the ill effects of the conflict, to lead normal lives.

According to the Indian High Commission, the Indian Minister had productive discussions with President Rajapaksa and had been pleased with the comprehensive briefing he received.

Both sides had agreed that at this time of transition and change, the ties between the countries should be further strengthened.

President Rajapaksa assured Mukherjee that it was his intention to implement the 13th Amendment, which was drafted soon after the 1987 Indo-Lanka Agreement, as soon as possible.

The President said that he would explore the possibility of going further and improving upon those devolution proposals.

Rajapaksa also extended a personal invitation to an all-party delegation from Tamil Nadu led by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Ms Jayalalitha Jayaram to visit Sri Lanka to see for themselves the ground situation and to persuade the LTTE to lay down arms and join the democratic mainstream.

Both Rajapaksa and Mukherjee reviewed the humanitarian situation as a result of the conflict. The Sri Lankan Government reassured him that it would respect the safe zones and minimise the effects of conflict on Tamil civilians. The Indian External Affairs Minister said that as in the past India would extend its relief supplies to civilians caught up in the zone of conflict.

The Indian High Commission said that an early restoration of normal democratic life in the areas affected by the conflict would be a major contribution to peace and stability and India would strive hard to achieve this by working with all those who work towards this goal.

During the meeting with the President, Mukherjee expressed India’s readiness to participate in the reconstruction of the North so as to overcome the ravages of war and also to lay the economic and political foundations of a strong peace in which all communities would feel comfortable.

Mukherjee also expressed his happiness with the progress towards the establishment of a 500 MW thermal power project near Trincomalee with Indian assistance.

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