Indian External Affairs Minister in town

Monday, 7 October 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

PTI: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will pay a two-day visit to Sri Lanka from tomorrow (Monday) to hold talks with the country’s top leadership on key issues, including Indian fishermen languishing in jails there and devolution of powers to the provinces. This is his first visit to Sri Lanka as the External Affairs Minister and comes immediately after the provincial elections in Tamil-dominated Northern Province last month which Sri Lanka’s Tamil National Alliance (TNA) won. Apart from holding talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris, Khurshid will call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and meet other senior leaders. He will also visit Jaffna and is expected to meet top leaders there, including Chief Minister-elect of the Northern Province C V Wigneswaran, who will be sworn in by President Rajapaksa tomorrow in Colombo. Expeditious implementation of the 13th amendment on devolution of powers to the provinces, Indian fishermen languishing in Sri Lankan jails, implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and cooperation in commerce are some of the main issues which are expected to be highlighted by the minister during his meetings. The issue of Sri Lankan forces arresting scores of Indian fishermen has become contentious with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also raising it with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister when he called on him here to invite him for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo in November. Last week, a Sri Lankan court had ordered the release of 35 Indian fishermen but did not pass a direction on five seized boats. Also, 20 fishermen were arrested last week by Lankan Navy in the Palk Strait. Another issue that is expected to be discussed during the talks is India’s continuous demand of full implementation of the 13th amendment, a byproduct of the 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord.