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India has opened door to us: SL MPs

Despite not getting an appointment with PM, the Tamil MPs are happy with their Delhi visit, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Sep 24, 2006 21:23 IST

The five-man delegation of the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is satisfied with its just concluded visit to New Delhi, even though it failed to get an appointment with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

While TNA members and Tamil dailies in Colombo felt cheated by the Indian Establishment and Tamil Nadu politicians, the members of the team themselves felt that their mission had ushered in a new era in India-Sri Lankan Tamil relations after a 15-year painful stand-off.

"India has opened the door to us," a senior MP, Mavai Senathirajah told Hindustan Times over phone from Trichy on Sunday.

Happy to have got an opportunity to meet the National Security Advisor, MK Narayanan, Foreign Secretary designate Shiv Shankar Menon, and the Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed, and to address a seminar at the prestigious Indian Council for World Affairs, the MPs declared that they had broken through to the top level in India.

"We opened our hearts to them and they opened their hearts to us," Senathirajah said.

"We had a very cordial meeting with the National Security advisor. In addition, he spoke to us on the phone prior to our departure," Senathirajah said.

About their meeting with the Foreign Secretary designate, Shiv Shankar Menon, he said that Menon's previous experience in Sri Lanka as High Commissioner helped them communicate with him very well.

Giving Rajapaksa time

About the Prime Minister's inability to see them, the MPs were told that Singh wanted to give some time to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to sort out matters, as only a few days earlier he had spoken to him about India 's concerns vis-a-vis Sri Lanka, on the sidelines of the NAM summit in Havana.

According to Senathirajah, Dr Singh had urged the Sri Lankan President to end the hostilities and killings in the North and East of the island, attend to the humanitarian issues triggered by the fighting, and go for talks with the LTTE.

The Indian PM offered the Sri Lankan President, assistance for the relief and rehabilitation of the displaced people in the war-ravaged Tamil-speaking North East.

When told about this, the TNA MPs requested that the aid be sent directly to the North and East and not through the Sri Lankan government, which, they alleged, could block it.

The Indian government, however, would not oblige them in this matter as New Delhi deals with Sri Lanka only through the government in Colombo.

According to Senathirajah, the Indian Prime Minister told Rajapaksa that India would view with concern any move to de-merge the North and East and form two distinct provinces, as any such move would go against the India- Sri Lanka Accord and exacerbate ethnic tension in the North and East.

The Indian top brass told the MPs that they could convey to New Delhi any issue that warranted India 's attention.