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Indo-Lanka ties in 2013 affected by Tamil issue

India-Sri Lanka ties in 2013 were affected by differences over alleged rights abuses in the war against the LTTE and giving political rights to Tamils, even as Colombo held provincial polls after 25 years in the Tamil-dominated north as part of reconciliation.
By HT Correspondent | PTI, Colombo
UPDATED ON DEC 29, 2013 04:48 PM IST

India-Sri Lanka ties in 2013 were affected by differences over alleged rights abuses in the war against the LTTE and giving political rights to Tamils, even as Colombo held provincial polls after 25 years in the Tamil-dominated north as part of reconciliation.

Hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November brought Sri Lanka back in international spotlight with some leaders boycotting the summit over the country's human rights record.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh skipped the summit due to stiff opposition from political parties in Tamil Nadu, demanding a "total boycott" over the Tamil issue and their political rights, four years after the Sri Lankan troops crushed Tamil rebels fighting for a separate homeland.

However, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid attended the summit and said India was committed to the welfare of Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamils and would remain engaged with the country in the "enlightened national interest".

UK Prime Minister David Cameron's historic visit to war-ravaged Jaffna, the first by a foreign head of government since Sri Lanka's independence from Britain in 1948, took the spotlight away from the summit of the 53-member grouping.

He gave an ultimatum to Sri Lanka to conduct a credible inquiry into the war crimes by March, failing which he would seek an international investigation.

A defiant President Mahinda Rajapaksa, however, rebuffed Cameron and said Lanka must be trusted to conduct its own probe.

Throughout the year, Sri Lanka battled international pressure over a credible inquiry into the alleged rights abuses in the closing days of the quarter century civil war.

In March, UN's Human Rights Council passed a US-sponsored resolution, which was backed by India, on 'Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka'.

India's support for the resolution stoked anger in Sri Lanka, with the media calling it a "let down" and the Heritage Party, part of the ruling alliance, demanding a "drastic change" in the country's foreign policy towards New Delhi.

In September, Sri Lanka held provincial council polls in the war-ravaged north as part of the reconciliation process with the Tamil minority community.

Newly-elected chief minister C V Wigneswaran, whose TNA swept the polls in the Northern Province, underlined the key role India played in ensuring the holding of the election. He called on India to help rebuild the war-ravaged region.

Expeditious implementation of the 13th Amendment, Indian fishermen languishing in Sri Lankan jails and implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission remained some of the major issues in India-Sri Lanka ties this year.

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