Pranab statement on Lanka issue in Parliament today

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi, Oct 21 | Updated: Oct 23 2008, 05:02am hrs
Under pressure from the southern allies in the UPA, the Manmohan Singh government has decided to send a clear message through Parliament to Sri Lanka on Wednesday, asking them to ensure the safety and security of innocent Tamil citizens in the island country.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who will be making a statement on the issue in both houses of Parliament on Wednesday, is expected to stress that the Sri Lankan government must work out mechanism to differentiate between cadres of LTTE and bonafide Tamil citizens who are not members of the terrorist organisation.

Mukherjee is also likely to pay a visit to Colombo, although it may materialise only after an expected visit of a high-level Sri Lankan delegation here. Responding to a question on the dates for Mukherjees visit to Colombo, foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon has said that no dates have been set. Nothing is set right now.

He added, What we see in Sri Lanka is a humanitarian crisis that affects Tamilian civilian population. There is the larger issue of settling the ethnic conflict and bringing peace to the country.

New Delhi has been trying to prevail upon Colombo for a peaceful end to the ethnic strife in the wake of steep pressure from the DMK and other southern parties, which have joined hands together for the Tamil cause. 15 MPs belonging to the DMK have already handed over post dated resignations to party chief M Karunanidhi in the attempt to pressurise the UPA leadership.

Manmohan Singh even called up Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakshe following which the Sri Lankan foreign minister Rohitha Bogollgama had invited Mukherjee to undertake a visit to Sri Lanka at an early date. According to sources, senior presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa, younger brother of President Rajapaksa, and presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunga will visit India this week to address New Delhis concerns. The date and composition of the delegation are yet to be finalised.