Khurshid arrives in Lanka for bilateral talks

  • PTI, Colombo
  • Updated: Oct 07, 2013 13:04 IST

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid arrived in Sri Lanka on Monday to hold talks with the top Sri Lankan leadership on a host of issues, including that of Indian fishermen languishing in jails and devolution of powers to the provinces.

The external affairs minister was received by minister of social services Felix Perera and Indian high commissioner in Colombo, Y K Sinha, at the Bandaranaike International Airport.

Khurshid's two-day visit is his first to Sri Lanka as the External Affairs Minister and comes at a critical time following the historic Northern Provincial elections last month in which the country's main Tamil party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) triumphed.

Apart from holding talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris, Khurshid will call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and meet other senior leaders.

He will visit Jaffna tomorrow and is expected to meet top leaders there, including chief minister-elect of the Northern Province C V Wigneswaran, who will be sworn in here by President Rajapaksa later on Monday.

Expeditious implementation of the 13th amendment on devolution of powers to the provinces, Indian fishermen languishing in Sri Lankan jails, implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and cooperation in commerce are some of the main issues which are expected to be highlighted by the minister during his meetings.

The issue of Sri Lankan forces arresting scores of Indian fishermen has become contentious with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also raising it with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister when he called on him here to invite him for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo in November.

Last week, a Sri Lankan court had ordered the release of 35 Indian fishermen but did not pass a direction on five seized boats.

Also, 20 fishermen were arrested last week by Lankan Navy in the Palk Strait.

Another issue that is expected to be discussed during the talks is India's continuous demand of full implementation of the 13th amendment, a byproduct of the 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord.

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