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On eve of India visit, Rajapaksa meets ethnic Tamil leaders

world Updated: Jun 08, 2010 00:46 IST

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa met Tamil leaders and assured them that a political solution would be found to the ethnic issue, on the eve of his visit to India.

Meeting parliamentarians of the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) for the first time since the outfit was vanquished, Rajapaksa held wide-ranging discussions over Tamil issues, including the devolution of power.

"Trust me, and together we can find a solution to the problems faced by all our people," Rajapaksa said addressing the meeting. This is the first time Rajapaksa met TNA leaders to discuss a political solution after the LTTE rout last year.

The visit came a day before the President begins his three-day visit to India. "I want a permanent solution. But, I will not bow down to terrorism, and what the terrorists wanted I will never give," Rajapaksa said emphasising the need for a lasting solution to prevailing issues.

The 14-member delegation led by party Parliamentary group leader R Sampanthan took up with the President issues related to the Tamil people, with focus on their problems in the Northern province.

"We are not demanding the solution that Prabhakaran wanted," the Presidential media unit quoted Sampanthan as saying. He pointed out that in selecting candidates for the last election, the TNA had laid it down that no one who stood for separation of the county would be nominated.

"We also faced many challenges," Sampanthan said. Among the immediate concerns of the people presented in a report prepared by TNA were those of food distribution, housing, occupation and livelihood, education, land and assistance for agriculture for the displaced persons. They also deliberated on the resettlement and related issues and the implementation of 13th Amendment on devolution.

LTTE was militarily defeated last May and its top leadership, including chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, was wiped out. Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, G L Peiris, Maithreepala Sirisena, and Dallas Alahapperuma, and MPs Rajiva Wijesinha and Sajin Vaas Gunewardena and the Chief of Staff of President's Office Gamini Senarath were associated with the President and Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Members of Parliament Mavai Senathirajah, Suresh Premachandra, A Vinayagamoorthy and C Saravanabhavan were among those associated with Sampanthan.