Tuesday, 9 July 2013 00:51
Will meet President for talks on 13A this morning
Expected to carry message of New Delhi’s official position on Colombo’s moves to dilute 13A, alter Indo-Lanka Accord
To meet TNA, UNP before flying off
Trilateral maritime security discussions with Sri Lanka, Maldives during visit
By Dharisha Bastians
Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon arrived in Colombo last afternoon, officially for a trilateral maritime security dialogue with Sri Lankan officials and a visiting Maldivian delegation, but his visit will also focus on attempts by the Government to tinker with the powers of the provincial councils.
Sources said the senior Indian official met with Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Maldivian delegation for discussions last evening. He will hold discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa this morning where Menon is expected to deliver the Indian Government’s official position on Colombo’s attempts to alter the 13th Amendment.
Indian Premier Manmohan Singh has expressed dismay over the Government’s move to dilute the provisions of the 13th Amendment that seeks to devolve some power to the provinces including the predominantly Tamil North. The Indian Government has indicated publicly that Sri Lanka cannot unilaterally alter the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 which is a bilateral agreement between the two neighbours.
The Indian National Security Advisor is expected to reinforce the message in Colombo today, diplomatic sources said.
Menon is also scheduled to meet with a delegation of the Tamil National Alliance and the main opposition United National Party today before he leaves for New Delhi later today.
Menon is in Sri Lanka on the invitation of the External Affairs Ministry in Colombo.
His visit follows Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s two day tour of New Delhi during which the discussions top Indian officials also centred on the 13th Amendment. Menon’s visit also follows the announcement of the northern provincial election likely in September after President Rajapaksa last week constituted the northern council by proclamation.
New Delhi and the international community have pushed hard for the September poll in the former battle zone.
India stepped up the pressure after President Rajapaksa Government announced plans to bring amendments to the 13A ahead of polls in the north. The plans have since been shelved but the Government has already nominated members to a Parliamentary Select Committee that will consult and make recommendation on proposed constitutional reform dealing with devolution, including the alteration of 13A.