By Dharisha Bastians
- Indian Foreign Secretary says Modi discussed 13A in detail with MR
- Modi calls for reconciliation that meets aspirations of Tamils during bilateral talks
- Presidents Office omits references to 13A talks
- Indian leadership vital to SAARC: MR
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose Government has been euphoric about the BJP victory, held his first official talks with the newly-sworn-in Premier of India yesterday, but found that Narendra Modi echoed the call of his predecessors for full devolution under the terms of the 13th Amendment and beyond for Sri Lankan Tamils.
The two leaders met for their first bilateral discussions at Hyderabad House in New Delhi at 10:30 a.m. yesterday.
Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh told reporters following the meeting between the two leaders that Prime Minister Modi had called for “full implementation of the 13th Amendment and beyond” – the infamous ‘13 Plus’ mantra that Indian Government has been insistent about since the end of the war.
Singh said the 13th Amendment had been “discussed at some length” between Prime Minister Modi and President Rajapaksa.
The new Indian Prime Minister had appealed to President Rajapaksa that the process of reconciliation should be undertaken in a way that meets the aspirations of the Tamil people within a united Sri Lanka, the Indian Foreign Secretary noted following the meeting.
However, the official release from the President’s Office failed to note references to the 13th Amendment, saying President Rajapaksa had described the initiatives Sri Lanka had taken towards rehabilitation, resettlement, reconstruction and reconciliation during his meeting with the new Indian Premier.
“The two leaders had in-depth discussions of issues of mutual concern,” the release from the President’s Office said.
President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Modi had also discussed the fishermen issue and measures that could be taken to evolve a permanent solution to the crisis. “Both agreed that talks between the fishermen and the meeting of the joint committee of officials must continue,” the President’s Office said in a statement.
President Rajapaksa’s office said Prime Minister Modi had expressed his gratitude to President Rajapaksa for participating in his inauguration ceremony, stating that the presence of SAARC leaders augurs well for the future cooperation and solidarity in the region.
President Rajapaksa had said India’s leadership was crucial for the success of SAARC ventures, the release said.
The Sri Lankan Government has been upbeat about Prime Minister Modi’s ascension to power in New Delhi after ties were strained between Colombo and New Delhi in the waning days of the Congress Government over failed promises about devolution for the country’s Tamil population.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa attended the swearing-in ceremony for India’s 15th Prime Minister at Rashtrapathi Bhawan, New Delhi, on the invitation of Prime Minister Modi.
Last week, the President invited Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran to join the presidential delegation to attend the ceremony. However, the offer was turned down by the Chief Minister on the grounds that it would facilitate tokenism and give the impression of a sense of cooperation between Colombo and the Northern PC that did not exist.