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Rajapaksa's talent may solve ethnic issue in Lanka: PM

world Updated: Jul 17, 2009 21:08 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

President Mahinda Rajapaksa won the long-drawn war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and could now win peace for Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday.

"His (Rajapaksa’s) enormous talent should help solve the long-drawn out (ethnic) issue in Sri Lanka permanently,’’ Singh was quoted as having said in a bilateral interaction with the Lankan President after the end of the 15th Non Aligned Summit at Sharm El Sheik in Egypt.

It was the first meeting of Singh and Rajapaksa after the Lankan government announced victory over the LTTE on May 19.

Singh said that he had the highest confidence in Rajapaksa’s capability in resolving issues in post-conflict Sri Lanka.

Singh’s comments, which were released here by the President’s office on Friday, also indicated that India was keeping a keen watch on the developments in Sri Lanka, especially in context of the rehabilitation of the 2.9 lakh Tamil refugees. They currently housed in camps across the country.

On his part, Rajapaksa assured Singh that his government was taking all steps to keep to its target of re-settling the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 180 days. The six-month deadline for resettling the refugees in their places of origin was announced when Indian officials including national security advisor, MK Narayanan, visited Colombo for exchange of views shortly after the defeat of the LTTE.

Rajapaksa said the government was keen to expedite the process of resettlement and rehabilitation, but had to also be conscious of the need to ensure the safety of these citizens, especially from land mines and other dangers.

The Indian government has come under severe criticism from the Tamil diaspora and pro-LTTE media for not doing enough for the community as the war came to a bloody end in May. They have accused India of supporting the Rajapaksa regime in its relentless campaign to finish the LTTE. The Indian government has maintained that it never supplied lethal weapons to the Lankan government for use in its fight against the Tamil rebels.