Sri Lanka hopes India will participate at the coming Commonwealth summit in Colombo “at the highest level”, said Sri Lankan Foreign Minister GL Peiris in New Delhi. Peiris is in India to hand over an invitation to the summit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday.
Indian Tamil parties, angered over Lanka’s treatment of its Tamil minority, have called on Singh to avoid the Commonwealth summit. Peiris noted that the summit has not met in South Asia for many years.
Peiris sought to address the issues raised by the Tamil parties. One, he said Sri Lanka had begun charging Indian fishermen who entered Sri Lankan territorial waters and fining them. As many as 400 to 500 Indian Tamil fishing boats enter Lankan waters every day.
“This is now becoming a domestic political problem in Sri Lanka,” he said, as the Indian intrusions were robbing Lankan Tamil fishermen of their livelihoods..
Two, a parliamentary select committee would be making recommendations about the future of the 13th constitutional amendment on Tamil devolution. He criticised the Tamil National Alliance and other parties for refusing to participate in the committee deliberations.
Three, he outlined many actions by Lanka in terms of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Tamil areas. He noted a UN report had shown that most Tamils were not unhappy with the Lankan army presence and saw it as a necessary stage.