Sirisena-Modi Talks: Lankans Urge Cautious Approach to Ties With India
COLOMBO: As Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena prepares to have talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday, opinion makers in Lanka have urged him to be cautious in his bid to improve ties with India, even as they endorsed his policy of recognizing India’s pre-eminent position in the South Asian region.
“President Sirisena’s visit must essentially be a goodwill visit. It must be devoid of joint statements which the Indian MEA will draft. They see things with their heads, not their hearts. It is too early for the Sri Lankan government to get into the crux of substantive bilateral issues on such a visit. This can be left to a subsequent visit by the Prime Minister or during a reciprocal visit by the Indian PM to Colombo,” said Sunday Times.
Pointing out that the Indian side will raise the issue of fully implementing the 13 th.Amendment (devolving power to the provinces), the paper said that India should not be allowed to treat the Tamil areas of the North as an Indian “enclave” or “colony”.
Saying that the MEA is “led by southern Indians” the paper urged the Lankan mission in New Delhi to go above them and cultivate the Central political leaders to stop Tamil Nadu trawlers from massively poaching in North Lankan waters.
The paper charged that Indian taxes block the entry of Lankan goods into the Indian market, despite the existence of a Free Trade Agreement. It also pointed out that while India had stated its agenda for the talks, Lanka had not.
Sunday Leader urged India not to push for further devolution of power to the Tamils as that might “create a conflagration”. Ceylon Todayappealed to Delhi not to do anything that might upset Sirisena’s plans to usher in a new order in Lanka.
The Tamils have urged Sirisena to firmly reject the Indian proposal to repatriate 100,000 Lankan refugees from Tamil Nadu.
“There should be no repatriation till all the lands appropriated by the Lankan armed forces are returned to the people,” said Suresh Premachandran, spokesman of Tamil National Alliance (TNA).