Parliament will decide on 13th Amendment, Rajapaksa tells Khurshid

Colombo, Oct 8 (IANS) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Tuesday told visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid that the Sri Lankan parliament was the best forum to decide on implementation of the 13th Amendment on devolution of more powers to the Northern Provincial Council.

Khurshid, who arrived in Colombo Monday, commended the Sri Lankan government for the successful conduct of elections in the Northern Province after decades under President Rajapaksa's stewardship.

Khurshid, who met Rajapaksa at the President's House in the afternoon, said the electios held last month, in which the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) emerged victorious, was a very important step for society and one that will likely be viewed as a great historic moment.

On the issue of the implementation of the 13th Amendment, Rajapaksa said 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.

According to a statement issued by the President's House: "The discussion between President Rajapaksa and Mr. Khurshid focused on developing strategies for the two countries to coordinate more closely towards further strengthening relations."

Both also touched on the issues that have arisen between fishermen of the two countries. It was agreed that the best way forward would be to facilitate a dialogue between fishing communities of both countries so that the fishermen can find out solutions to their problems.

A similar approach was proposed for the business communities of both sides so that they could enhance interaction.

India's High Commissioner Y.K. Sinha accompanied Khurshid along with several other officers from the external affairs ministry and the high commission. Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris and Sri Lanka's envoy in India Prasad Kariyawasam were also present.

On Monday, after holding talks with Peiris, Khurshid said that India hoped the successful holding of elections to the Tamil-majority Northern Province would "usher in a new beginning towards a better future for the people in the North".

On the 13th Amendment, he said India looks "forward to an early resumption of the dialogue process, in order to address this issue in a timely manner".

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