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India backs PSC on ethnic issue



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By Shamindra Ferdinando


Sri Lanka’s efforts to launch the much delayed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to recommend a lasting political solution to the national issue received a boost yesterday with India pledging support for it.


Visiting External Affairs Minister Krishna yesterday afternoon declared India’s support for the proposed PSC, at a media briefing following discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Premier D. M. Jayaratne and External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris earlier in the day.


Minister Krishna was speaking in the wake of Sri Lanka suspending talks with the TNA pending the one-time LTTE proxy nominating its representatives to the PSC.


Addressing the media at the External Affairs Ministry, Colombo, Krishna said that bilateral talks between the government and the TNA along with PSC deliberations involving all political parties, including the TNA could facilitate a political settlement.


Commenting on his talks with President Rajapaksa, the Minister said that he had secured the President’s commitment to what he called 13th Amendment plus approach.  


"Sri Lanka has on many occasions conveyed to us its commitment to move towards a political settlement based on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, and building on it, so as to achieve meaningful devolution of powers. We look forward to an expeditious and constructive approach to the dialogue process. We believe that continuation of the dialogue between the Government and the TNA would pave the way for political settlement, including under the rubric of the Parliamentary Select Committee."


Asked whether he had discussed a possible timeframe for reaching an agreement on the implementation of the 13 Amendment, Minister Krishna answered in the negative.


Prof. Peiris said that having rigid timeframes couldn’t be considered a good approach.


Minister Krishna said that his discussions with the Sri Lankan leadership had covered trade, services and investment, development cooperation, science and technology, culture and education.


While reiterating India’s commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, Minister Krishna expressed the belief that the vision and leadership that had helped conclude the war should now be made use of to bring about a genuine political reconciliation. "We look forward to progress in the ongoing dialogue process in order to address this issue in a timely manner," the Indian External Affairs Minister said.


During the 1987-1990 period India lost over 1,500 officers and men fighting the LTTE in Sri Lanka. Minister Krishna yesterday visited the IPKF memorial in Colombo, where he said: "It is a matter of pride for me to be here at the IPKF Memorial in Sri Lanka, raised in honour of those brave soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces, who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving the cause of peace in Sri Lanka. This Memorial is an abiding testimony to the strong bonds of friendship between the governments and the peoples of India and Sri Lanka. It is also a symbol of India’s commitment to the unity, stability and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. On this occasion, I would like to pay my humble tribute to the exceptional courage and commitment shown by our soldiers under extremely challenging circumstances."


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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