India gets tough; Menon here for crucial talksBy Our Political Editor
India is sending a top-level emissary to Sri Lanka to convey in “the strongest terms” New Delhi’s concerns over a string of important issues.
Shiv Shankar Menon, National Security Advisor to the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will have one-on-one meetings both with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The one-time envoy to Sri Lanka arrives in Colombo on Thursday evening and will have the two meetings on Friday. There will be no other engagements for him except for these two meetings.
Among matters Mr. Menon is expected to raise will be issues related to the United States-backed resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March. The three-fold resolution, backed by India, among other matters, called upon the government to (a) to implement the ‘constructive’ recommendations of the LLRC and to take all additional steps necessary to fulfil
the government’s relevant legal obligations and commitment “to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans. (b) It also called upon the government to present a “comprehensive action plan detailing the steps the government has taken and will take to implement the recommendations made in the LLRC report.
The Sunday Times learns that Mr. Menon will during his meetings both with the President and the Defence Secretary express “strong reservations” over what New Delhi believes is an escalating anti-Indian stance by sections in the government. In this regard, India will raise a senior cabinet minister’s recent “inflammatory” statements which India says are “rousing communal passions” and “obstructing” any possible measures at reconciliation.
Mr. Menon is also to discuss with Defence Secretary Rajapaksa matters relating to demilitarisation in the north.
It was only in April this year that an Indian Parliamentary delegation led by Lok Sabha Opposition Leader Sushma Swaraj told government leaders in Colombo, “We stood by you. There is a feeling of India being let down badly. There is disappointment.” Ms. Swaraj also said that troops in the north should not be involved in the “day-to-day lives” of civilians in the north. She later briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the visit.
Since the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration was voted to office in 2005, this is the first time an Indian government emissary has sought to have one-on-one meetings with the President and the Defence Secretary. They come ahead of Sri Lanka’s human rights record being taken up under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UNHRC in November.
Indo-Lanka ties ‘will never be weakened’
President Mahinda Rajapaksa held talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
The President’s office in a four-paragraph statement on the talks said the two leaders had “stressed that the relations between the two countries continued since time immemorial will never be weakened” and that “both leaders discussed the historical relations and the need to be in constant vigil over the strengthening of relations (sic). During crucial times the two states should explore the possibility of arriving at solutions through negotiations”.