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India, Lanka hold Tamil talks

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced a major initiative to undertake a construction programme of 50,000 houses for displaced Tamils in northern and eastern provinces of the island nation hit by the war with LTTE that ended last year. This will be done with Indian assistance.

delhi Updated: Jun 10, 2010 00:43 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced a major initiative to undertake a construction programme of 50,000 houses for displaced Tamils in northern and eastern provinces of the island nation hit by the war with LTTE that ended last year. This will be done with Indian assistance.

India will also be taking up several projects for the reconstruction of the war-torn north and the east, including rebuilding of railway infrastructure, rehabilitation of Kankesanthurai harbour and Palaly Airport, construction of a cultural centre in Jaffna and several vocational training centres, renovation of the Duraiappah stadium, inputs for agriculture regeneration and rehabilitation of war widows.

Rajapaksa explained to the prime minister and a delegation of 14 DMK and Congress MPs that the resettlement of 54,000 people — not 80,000 as claimed by Tamil Nadu leaders — would be done in three months. It was delayed beyond the December deadline because an extensive de-mining operation had to be undertaken.

Explosives planted by the Tamil Tigers had to neutralised before the displaced families could be asked to return home, the Lankan president said.

Singh emphasised that a meaningful devolution package, building upon the 13th Amendment, would necessary for a lasting political settlement.

On his part, Rajapaksa said he was working on a political settlement based on a broader dialogue with all parties involved, which was “acceptable to all communities” and would create necessary conditions for everyone to live in peace, justice and dignity.

Besides a joint declaration, seven pacts were signed to boost bilateral cooperation across a range of areas, including security, power, railways and cultural exchange.

Two MoUs were also inked on the transfer of sentenced persons and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

First Published: Jun 10, 2010 00:41 IST