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India govt for quicker resettlement of Tamils
New Delhi, Mar 8 (IANS):
Published on 8 Mar. 2010 11:01 PM IST
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India Monday said it has urged Sri Lanka to quicken the resettlement of Tamils displaced by war and pledged aid for their housing projects as Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao returned home after a three-day visit to Colombo. In wide-ranging discussions with the Sri Lankan leadership and officials over two days, Rao told them that it was India’s intention to continue supporting the task of development and reconstruction in war-hit northern and eastern Sri Lanka. She “expressed the hope that the resettlement process could be expedited, especially in Killinochchi and Mullaitivu, so that the IDPs could resume normal lives in their original places of habitation”, the external affairs ministry said in a statement. “In this context, she announced India’s support for housing projects to be taken up in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts for the benefit of the IDPs,” the ministry added. This will include the setting up temporary shelters, repairing damaged houses and building new houses. The number of IDPs now stand at less than 70,000. Assuring India’s support in resettling Tamil civilians displaced by the civil war, Rao conveyed that India looked forward to opening a Consulate General in Jaffna. Improving connectivity in northern, eastern and central Sri Lanka figured high in discussions between the two sides. Rao announced the supply of 55 buses to educational, social and cultural organisations in these areas. She also indicated that India was considering providing additional Lines of Credit for railway projects in northern Sri Lanka. In her meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Rao underlined that the end of the civil war and the holding of elections provided Sri Lanka with “a historic opportunity to initiate a process of political reconciliation where all communities in Sri Lanka can live in peace and harmony”. Rajapaksa appreciated India’s multi-faceted assistance for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of northern and eastern Sri Lanka and for the resettlement of IDPs. The two sides agreed to convene a meeting of the joint working group on fishing to discuss issues related to fishermen. India to open consulate in Jaffna: Nirupama Rao India plans to open a consulate in Jaffna town, an important step to spur New Delhi’s efforts in the reconstruction of Sri Lanka’s war-ravaged north, the government said Monday. Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao “conveyed that India looked forward to opening a Consulate General in Jaffna”, the external affairs ministry said in a statement. Sri Lanka has agreed to the proposal, official sources said here. The consulate in Jaffna, it is hoped, will promote greater people-to-people contact between India and the Tamil population and spur economic activities in a region that was once the breadbasket of Sri Lanka. Jaffna, in the north of Sri Lanka, is wholly Tamil. The issue was discussed between Rao and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo Sunday. India has presently a high commission in the capital Colombo and a consulate at Kandy. Besides its high commission in New Delhi, Sri Lanka has consular offices in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata. Rao, a former Indian high commissioner to Sri Lanka, returned from a three-day trip to Colombo Monday, her first trip to the country after she became foreign secretary last year. The modalities regarding the opening of the Jaffna consulate are being finalised, the sources said. India made a request to open the consulate after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was militarily defeated in May last year. During her visit, Rao said that India had decided to participate fully in the setting up of the International Buddhist Museum in the Dalada Maligawa complex in Kandy. Work to set up the Indian gallery will commence soon under the direction of the National Museum of India. Rao also announced that India would assist in the restoration of the Thiruketheshwaram temple in Mannar. A team from the Archaeological Survey of India and the College of Architecture in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, will visit Sri Lanka to take up this work, the ministry said.

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