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Published On:Thursday, January 24, 2013
Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian

GL's meeting with Salman Khurshid

| Ceylon Today Editorial 

( January 24, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Tuesday's meeting between the foreign ministers of Sri Lanka and India, G.L. Peiris and Salman Khurshid, at the eighth Indo-Lanka Joint Commission meeting in New Delhi, has been given a positive spin with both parties expressing satisfaction that "the discussions had helped to further deepen understanding and friendship between the two countries to work together, to reap full advantage of opportunities that are beneficial to the people of both countries."

The meeting, the first high profile tête-à-tête between the two countries for 2013 comes at a time when factions in both countries are nursing hurt feelings over issues of omission and commission. In fact Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian, Suresh Premachandran, in an interview with an Indian news agency a few days ago, accused India of treating the Tamil issue in the same manner it dealt with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). And several other quarters are yet to forgive the country for the 'great betrayal' of voting in favour of the US sponsored resolution against the Sri Lankan Government.

Hurt feelings aside, the meeting, apart from purportedly strengthening the existing relations between the two countries, also paves the way for Sri Lanka to study India's pulse ahead of the next UNHRC sessions in Geneva, which is around the corner in March.

The sessions are expected to review the progress made by Sri Lanka in the implementation of several recommendations, including the implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), proposed in the US backed resolution.

Though India played a significant role in helping to end three decades of civil war in the country, its decision to support the US backed resolution, which Sri Lanka deemed was an insult to its sovereignty and great war victory, was considered an unforgivable infringement of regional trust. This to a large extent helped tilt Sri Lanka's balance of friendship scale, more in favour of China, much to the consternation of India.

To India's credit, it sent a high profile delegation led by the Opposition Leader Sushma Swaraj to Sri Lanka, in the immediate aftermath of the resolution, to help stabilize the fraying ties between the two countries and for a first hand view of post-war developments, especially in terms of resettlement and political solution.

Things haven't been all that hunky-dory on the other side of the Palk Strait either. In the South Indian State of Tamil Nadu, the Tamil cause was held aloft with many expressing anti-Lankan sentiments over the training of Sri Lankan Security Forces personnel in Tamil Nadu. The sentiments escalated, with several attacks carried out on Sri Lankan pilgrims in Tamil Nadu.

The Indian Government has been in what's called a 'devil and the deep blue sea' situation over its diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka, while trying to quell Tamil Nadu's anti-Sri Lankan sentiments without alienating the state.

Despite the hiccups, India has remained very much involved in Sri Lanka's ethnic crisis. But because of the balancing act that is required, that response to the Tamil issue may be deemed somewhat tame. Perhaps this is why the Tamil National Alliance expects the country to act in a more effective manner and change its attitude towards dealing with the Lankan Tamil crisis.

Premachandran's comments in the interview with INAS, indicates that the main Tamil party expects India to play a pivotal role in addressing the Tamil issue. No doubt, India being a regional superpower, familiar with the Lankan situation, can play a larger role in helping resolve Tamil political issues, as well as defence and the socio economic issues.

In this context, the interaction between the Lankan and the Indian External Affairs Ministers in New Delhi and Suresh Premachandran's appeal to India, brings into focus the onus that is on India to play a more responsible role in finding an early solution to the Lankan Tamil issue, instead of dancing to the tune of external forces, whether it be in the West or East.

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