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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 77

Sri Lanka Foreign Minister begins a three-day visit to India

[b]Sri Lanka Foreign Minister begins a three-day visit to India [/b]

By M Rama Rao - in New Delhi

[b]New Delhi, 07 May ([/b] As the Colombo-Tigers stand off continues, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera begins a three-day visit to India, his second visit in ix-months; the first visit was in December shortly after the Rajapakse government came to power. Sri Lanka's Foreign Secretary and Finance Secretary are accompanying him on the visit which is officially billed here as 'for consultations'. South Block sees the visit as a part of 'our high-level' engagement with Sri Lanka.

"The present visit is timely and, of course, particularly important as it comes at a time when the peace process is delicately poised in Sri Lanka," Foreign Office spokesman Navtej Sarna said. India will utilise the visit to 'make a first hand assessment' of the situation in the Island Republic, he added.

Samaraweera's main talking points with his Indian hosts, going by reports from Colombo, are supply of military hardware and an early decision on a comprehensive India- Sri Lanka defence cooperation agreement. Both topics have been on the agenda for a while and given the delicate situation Colombo is facing, the Rajapakse government wants India to make a public display of its support. What better way is there than an announcement on arms supply and defence pact, according to the Island government.

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