Sri Lanka on Thursday announced that it will hold provincial elections in the once restive Tamil dominated north in 2012, even as President Mahinda Rajapaksa denied that he was pressured by India to offer a political solution to the ethnic community.
Rajapaksa said any political settlement to the matter will have to be approved by the parliament.
"There was no pressure from India on the thirteenth amendment of thirteen plus," Rajapaksa told reporters.
The President said the election for the northern provincial council will be held "next year". He wanted the parties to start preparing for the polls which will be the first ever for the council since separated from the east.
Responding to a query on the visit by National Security Advisor (NSA) Shiv Shankar Menon, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and defence secretary Pradeep Kumar, he said they had discussed routine bilateral issues.
The Indian officials visited Colombo early this month in the backdrop of a call by Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa to impose economic sanctions on Sri Lanka.
Rajapaksa said Menon had indicated to him the proposal made by his own Cabinet minister Douglas Devananda on the need for Sri Lankan Parliament to thrash out the question of a political solution to the island's ethnic question. He said appointing a parliamentary select committee on the ethnic question was not a delaying tactic.
"Any solution that comes up will have to be approved in parliament," the president said. "I will back any solution approved by Parliament".