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Pranab Mukherjee to visit Sri Lanka in Jan

The Indian External Affairs Minister is expected to discuss the status of Lankan peace process.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2006 15:15 IST

Amid raging fighting in Sri Lanka, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will undertake a visit to the island nation early next month during which the two sides are expected to discuss the status of the peace process there and other issues.

Mukherjee is likely to travel to Colombo on January 8 primarily to invite President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the 14th SAARC Summit to be held here in April, official sources said on Wednesday.

The visit will provide the opportunity to the two countries to discuss the peace process and humanitarian situation in Tamil-dominated Jaffna, they said.

New Delhi has been concerned over the worsening humanitarian situation in Jaffna following an economic blockade.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during a meeting with pro-LTTE Sri Lankan MPs here last week, said India was concerned over denial and violation of human rights of the Tamil people and it had been conveyed to Colombo.

The MPs told the Prime Minister that the condition of Tamil people in the island nation was "pathetic and deplorable" as they are suffering without food, medicine and fuel.

The situation has been worsening with fighting between government troops and LTTE witnessing a continuous increase.

Mukherjee is visiting SAARC nations to invite the heads of State or governments for the upcoming Summit of the eight-member regional organisation.

He has already travelled to Bhutan and Nepal and will be visiting Pakistan on January 13.

First Published: Dec 27, 2006 15:15 IST