In a significant move following his talks with the Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon here on July 9, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa met the leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R Sampanthan here on Friday. The meeting was held at the instance of the President, the TNA said.
“The President expressed his desire to solve all outstanding issues relating to the national question,” a TNA release said.
“Sampanthan reiterated the TNA’s commitment to the evolution of an acceptable, workable and durable political solution within the framework of a united undivided country.
Amongst other matters discussed were issues pertaining to land, the need for people to resettle on all land earlier occupied by them, the need to minimise the military presence, and confine the armed forces to the barracks, release of political prisoners, and the conduct of free and fair polls for the Northern Provincial Council. The discussions were cordial,” the release said.
The President was assisted by his secretary Lalith Weetratunge and Foreign Minister and constitutional expert, G L Peiris.
During his visit, the Indian NSA had gently urged both sides to interact and try to find common ground, as that was the only way to move forward.
Menon said that India believed in the utility of engagement as opposed to quitting. In that context, India favoured the TNA’s participation in the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) set up to find a solution to the Tamil problem. The TNA has so far said that it will keep away from the PSC as it is loaded in favour of the ruling alliance.
Rajapaksa is interested in persuading the TNA to join the PSC because at present no opposition party has agreed to join it. Even a coalition partner like the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress is boycotting it. In a desperate move to fill the yawning gap, the PSC, during its first sitting on July 9, asked the public to participate by sending in their views in writing. Public representations would be welcomed till August 9 it said.