New Delhi : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa here on Thursday, and is expected to press for a viable political solution in the island nation.
Rajapaksa arrives on a three-day visit on Wednesday night. He has been invited by the Madhya Pradesh government for the foundation-laying event of the University of Buddhist and Indic Studies in Sanchi. Manmohan Singh will meet Rajapaksa and host a dinner on Thursday in New Delhi – a meeting that will see India air its concerns over issues related to the rehabilitation of war-displaced Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Rajapaksa will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee. Rajapaksa’s trip takes place days after a 26-year-old auto driver from Salem attempted self-immolation protesting the visit.
MDMK leader Vaiko and his supporters have left for Sanchi to hold a black flag demonstration against Rajapaksa. Many in Tamil Nadu’s politics are against any visit by Rajapaksa over the killings of a large number of civilians in the war that led to the LTTE’s defeat in May 2009. Colombo denied innocenets were killed.
A group of Sri Lankan tourists were targeted in Tamil Nadu this month.
Sri Lanka’s envoy Prasad Kariyawasam has blamed the incidents on “fringe pro-LTTE groups” in the state and underlined that relations between the two countries continue to be “warm and robust”. “The protests are led by fringe groups who are pro-LTTE and are still wedded to LTTE’s ideology and who are upset at the defeat of the LTTE,” the envoy told IANS ahead of the visit.
The envoy pointed to improved bilateral trade ties.
“India-Sri Lanka trade is growing and currently stands at $5 billion. The two sides are hoping to double it by 2015. India is the biggest investor in Sri Lanka,” he said. –IANS