India has role to play because of Tamils
Sri Lanka should move forward to rebuild the nation – Indian External Affairs Minister

India has a role to play in Sri Lanka because a large number of Tamilian people are involved, Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna said on Friday.

"We have a role because we have good relations with Sri Lanka. You may be aware that 100 crores to rehabilitate who are in distress there have been allocated and the PM has gone on to say that he will give 500 crores. These are gestures to reassure the government of Sri Lanka that India is profoundly concerned about the welfare of the Sri Lankan Tamils", he said in an exclusive interview with CNN-IBN, shortly after taking over as India’s new External Affairs Minister.

"At the same time, we feel that Sri Lanka should come out of this crisis and they should move forward in terms of rebuilding the nation", he stressed.

Asked by the interviewer, Suhasini Haidar that particularly when it comes to Sri Lanka a lot has changed and what will India’s role be in rebuilding Sri Lanka after the end of the LTTE, he said Sri Lanka has come out of a tragedy that it went through. Now, Sri Lanka can look forward to rebuilding their nation, to bring about harmony amongst the people who live their and devolution of power to the Sri Lankan Tamilians which was the root cause of their problem. We have impressed upon the president of Sri Lanka that it would be desirable that he addresses the concerns of the minority and we have been assured that he will move forward in that direction.

Q: Are you convinced the Sri Lankan government will make good on its promises of devolution in Tamil areas?

Krishna: I do not how things will unfold in the next few days. Let’s wait and watch. President Rajapakse has assured us he will work towards the concerns of the minority.

Q: In your first statement after taking over you spoke of the subcontinent being your focus given the problems we see in Pakistan, in Nepal, in Sri Lanka, are India’s neighbours also your biggest challenge?

Krishna: Whether you refer to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal or our immediate big neighbour China, we have our problems but we also have our lasting friendship with all of them. We want a strategic partnership with all these countries so that we can live in peace. Development could be our mantra or the engine which will drive us.

Q: You have been Chief Minister of Karnataka, a five-time MP but new to the External Affairs Ministry, unlike your predecessors like Pranab Mukherjee - who had held the post before - and Natwar Singh - who was a diplomat. What are the key strengths you will bring to this post?

A: The world is going through a rapid change. Countries are becoming increasingly inter-dependent on each other. India would like to be friendly not only with our immediate neighbors but also the super powers. So it will be my endeavor to continue the fundamentals of the foreign policy that have been spelt out over a period of time and I would take it forward in that direction.

Q: As Chief Minister of Karnataka you met many heads of state who visited Bangalore. Is that experience also going to prove helpful?

A: Well it was fortunate that a number of heads of govt. visited Bangalore when I was the CM of that state. It was largely because of the investment climate that we tried to create in the state of Karnataka. It was a very big incentive for foreign investors. In foreign countries, govt. and business act very closely. Those visits were investment oriented and we were extremely lucky that huge investments came into the state of Karnataka during those five years and we reaped the benefits.

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