Khurshid meets Rajapaksa, visits Northern Province

Colombo, Oct 8 (IANS) India's External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka, Tuesday met President Mahinda Rajapaksa and later visited the Tamil-majority Northern Province where he said that India is committed to implementation of the 13th Amendment on devolution of powers.

During his call on President Rajapaksa, Khurshid commended his stewardship in the holding of successful elections to the Northern Province and described it as a very important step for society, one that will likely be viewed as a great historic moment.

On the issue of implementation of the 13th Amendment, President Rajapaksa told Khurshid that "Parliament is the best forum to address the issue".

He said that members of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) should engage in dialogue and come up with a solution that is in line with what the people want.

On the issue of fishermen, both agreed that the best way forward would be to facilitate a dialogue between fishing communities of both countries so that they can find out solutions to their problems.

Khurshid later visited Jaffna where he said that "India is committed to pursuing the full implementation of the 13th Amendment, and building upon it, to achieve a meaningful devolution of powers".

"In this regard, India will do everything possible to work with the Government of Sri Lanka to take this process forward in a spirit of partnership and cooperation," he said..

He was speaking at a function to distribute of certificates to beneficiaries of the Indian Housing Project and Small Business Enterprises in the Northern Province.

He said India's housing project is "the flagship project of India's development assistance to Sri Lanka" and the largest grant assistance project undertaken by the Indian government in any part of the world.

A total of 1,000 houses have been built under the pilot project and nearly 16,000 houses are under various stages of construction in the second phase.

Khurshid elaborated on the other developmental projects, which include the reconstruction project for the Northern Railway line under Indian lines of credit, removing wrecks from the Kankesanthurai Harbour and dredging of the port.

He said India is also constructing the Jaffna Cultural Centre near the Jaffna Public Library for which an MoU would be inked with Colombo."I am confident that this Centre, when completed, will emerge as a cultural landmark in Jaffna, if not the entire Northern Province," he said.

During his trip to Jaffna, Khurshid met the Northern Province's first elected Tamil Chief Minister, C.V. Wigneswaran


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