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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2957

No date as yet for Pranab visit to Colombo

By M Rama Rao, India Editor, Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 31 December ( External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is expected to visit Colombo early in the New Year but no date has been fixed despite pressure from the DMK and other allies in Tamil Nadu.

Mukherjee, who is presently in the thick of 'war of words' with Pakistan, stated in an interview to a news agency on Tuesday that no decision had been taken on when he would travel to Sri Lanka.

He, however, expressed disappointment at the delay in implementing the devolution package by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.

Mukherjee noted that APRC has worked on the devolution package and slipped in the usual caveats Delhi stands for. First the report should to address the legitimate aspirations of the ethnic minorities. Second the implementation should be done in such a way that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka should not be affected. 'This is the ultimate solution (to Sri Lanka's Tamil imbroglio), the minister was quoted as saying.

The Indian minister reiterated that ethnic conflict has to be resolved 'not militarily, but through dialogue'. A framework was built up in the 1987 Rajiv Gandhi-Jayawardhane agreement for devolution of powers, he recalled. Though some steps have been taken with regard to polls and elections were held for Eastern provincial council, the 'process has to be expedited'.

Mukherjee also voiced concern over the humanitarian situation owing to the Eelam War.

Curt Message To Pakistan

External Affairs Minister asked Pakistan to learn 'correct lessons' from the Jammu and Kashmir elections and understand that the so-called demand for 'azadi' and the encouragement to indigenous terrorism is not the way. 'I hope Pakistan will draw the correct lessons’; he was quoted as saying in the interview.

He observed that the large turnout (60 percent on average) in the seven phase poll was a clear rejection of separatists' poll boycott call.

Echoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mukherjee added: It is not important which party has won the elections. It is important that the faith and confidence of the people of Kashmir in democracy that has won. There was a large turnout despite the boycott call given by the Hurriyat, and despite the most tortuous weather. The turnout is very encouraging.

- Asian Tribune -

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