Karunanidhi asks Singh to send envoy to Lanka

Indian PM seeks Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s advice to solve Lankan issue

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mutuvel Karunanidhi yesterday called on Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to send a special envoy to Sri Lanka to assess the progress on the rehabilitation of the displaced people, reports said.

His suggestion came in response to Premier Singh’s invitation to Mr. Karunanidhi, seeking his advice to solve the Sri Lankan ethnic question “once and for all”.

The Chief Minister in a letter sent to the Prime Minister yesterday said the Sri Lankan Tamil issue needed short and long-term solutions and complained that the rehabilitation measures had not progressed "at the expected level".

“I would like to suggest that the Government of India, through diplomatic sources or by sending a special envoy, may assess the real situation in the affected areas and the progress of rehabilitation measures so far undertaken by the Sri Lankan government….”

He said India may also try to get information on “the time-frame for completing the process of resettlement to the satisfaction of the affected persons. This will enable us to plan the future course of action with a view to ensuring peaceful and rightful livelihood of the displaced Tamils”.

Dr. Singh in his letter to Mr. Karunanidhi sought his advice on ways to resolve Sri Lanka's ethnic issue ‘once and for all’ through political agreement. "My government will certainly do all that it can to enable Tamils in Sri Lanka to live a life of dignity and self-respect," he said in his letter.

Dr. Singh’s letter came in response to Mr. Karunanidhi's July 3 letter urging him to impress upon the Sri Lankan Government to find a permanent solution to the ethnic issue. The Premier said New Delhi had already committed funds for rapid rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons in northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

"Further, we are committed to assist in the construction of 50,000 houses for internally displaced people and are also trying to restore normal economic activity in these areas by building infrastructure and promoting sustainable livelihood," the Prime Minister said.

He also pointed out that apart from his discussion with President Mahinda Rajapaksa last month, he had also recently received a delegation of the Tamil National Alliance MPs from Sri Lanka. It was reported earlier that Singh requested the TNA MPs to continue to hold talks with the Lankan government in a constructive way.

The delegation reportedly wanted the Northern and Eastern Provinces to be reunited, as per the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987. The unification had been annulled by a Supreme Court order in 2006.

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