Manmohan Singh to meet President next week

Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa next week in Myanmar, three months after skipping a visit to the island nation to attend Commonwealth heads of government meet due to pressure from Tamil parties and within government.

Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh today said the Prime Minister will meet Rajapaksa on the sidelines of the BIMSTEC Summit on March 4 in Myanmar.

“The Prime Minister will be meeting the President of Sri Lanka,” she said. The Foreign Secretary was replying to a question on whether Singh will be meeting Rajapaksa as Sri Lankan has rejected a call by the UN for an independent international probe into allegations of war crimes.

Sri Lanka has come under increasing international pressure to probe allegations of excessive civilian deaths during the final battle that ended in May 2009. A crucial UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka is coming up in March.

Asked whether India will support the resolution against Sri Lanka, the Foreign Secretary refused to give a direct reply saying it has to see the text of the resolution and examine other issues.

The Prime Minister had decided not to travel to Sri Lanka in November last year after Tamil Nadu political parties and Congress leaders from the state opposed the visit alleging that the Sri Lankan government has committed atrocities and human rights violations against Tamils.

On Monday, the UN called for an independent international probe into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka during the final battle with the LTTE, prompting an angry reaction from Colombo which today rejected the demand and slammed it as “unwarranted interference”.

In a report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navy Pillay asked for setting up of an independent probe and said Sri Lanka had “consistently failed to establish the truth”. Rajapaksa’s government has already rejected the demand. (PTI)