Within two weeks of Tamil National Alliance romping home in the historic Northern Provincial elections in Sri Lanka , External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will be visiting the island nation early next month.
This will be Khurshid’s first visit to Colombo as the External Affairs Minister which will come at a critical time following provincial elections which is seen as opening a critical window of opportunity to achieve reconciliation through devolution of power.
Sources said Khurshid will visit Sri Lanka on October 7 and 8 during which he will meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his counterpart G L Peiris and other senior Lankan leaders from across the political spectrum. He is also likely to meet a delegation of Tamil National Alliance, including the newly-elected Northern Province Chief Minister C V Vigneswaran.
The previous visit by an Indian External Affairs Minister was by S M Krishna, who visited the island in January 2012. Whereas, the last high-level Indian visit was by National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon in July this year.
Sources said Khurshid’s visit to Colombo is part of his plan to visit various South Asian capitals on a priority basis. He has already visited Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Maldives is currently out of bounds due to the internal situation, while Pakistan is too much of a political ‘hot potato’.
The Indian fishermen issue is certainly expected to be discussed and there has been clear indication from Tamil Nadu government that it has given green light for fishermen of India and Sri Lanka to meet each other. However, India is not likely to give any indication whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will participate in the Commonwealth Heads of Government meet in November.
Hails NP Polls
Meanwhile, India on Tuesday welcomed the “successful” culmination of the northern provincial council elections held on September 21. It hailed the high voter turnout and participation by political parties and said that it showed Sri Lankan commitment to “democratic values and elections to representative bodies at various levels”.