Lanka-India talks on vital issues

Basil to lead top-level delegation next month

Sri Lanka and India will hold top-level consultations over a series of bilateral and international issues when a high-powered delegation visits New Delhi next month.

The team headed by Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development cum Senior Presidential Advisor, will include Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The delegation is expected to brief their Indian leaders on measures taken by the government to address Tamil grievances, development projects launched after the military defeat of Tiger guerrillas, the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and related matters.

On the international front, the government’s official position in respect of the advisory panel set up by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is to be explained.

External Affairs Ministry sources said the visit was expected to take place by mid-August. This is after Minister Rajapaksa who undertakes a visit to Japan today accompanied by External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris returns to Sri Lanka. Defence Secretary Rajapaksa, who is now in the United States, is also expected to return to Colombo in the first week of August.

The same delegation visited New Delhi in December last year -- their first visit since the military defeat of Tiger guerrillas in May last year. During this visit, the delegation thanked India for assistance rendered in the military campaign against the guerrillas. They also briefed Indian leaders and officials on the re-settlement of IDPs.

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