It is in Sri Lanka’s interest to meet Tamil expectations, implement 13th Amendment: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister made the remarks hours after he called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and also held bilateral discussions with his counterpart, as part of his three-day visit that began on Tuesday.

It is in Sri Lanka’s own interest that the expectations of the Tamil people, for equality, justice, peace and dignity, within a united Sri Lanka are fulfilled, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said in Colombo on Wednesday. “That applies equally to commitments made by the Sri Lankan government on meaningful devolution, including the 13th Amendment,” he said, addressing a joint press conference with Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

Mr. Jaishankar made the remarks hours after he called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and also held bilateral discussions with his counterpart, as part of his three-day visit that began on Tuesday. Consistent with New Delhi’s messaging on the Tamil question since the Rajapaksas came to power, the remarks coincide with a campaign among sections in Sri Lanka, to abolish the provincial council system and the 13th Amendment, that followed the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987.

Mr. Gunawardena, in his statement, said the President had “firmly stated” his commitment to the well-being, progress and opportunity “to all our citizens – Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and all”, he said.

Earlier, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister outlined the broad areas of their bilateral talks, including collaboration during the pandemic, trade and investment, maritime and fisheries. Mr. Jaishankar said India looked forward to post-COVID-19 collaboration with Sri Lanka, addressing both public health and economic aspects — including the prospect of vaccines — in addition to partnerships in sectors such as infrastructure and energy.

The visiting External Affairs Minister is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday evening, and is expectated to meet leading politicians in the Opposition and of parties representing the island’s ethnic minorities. He will also hold discussions with Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda on the fisheries conflict affecting fisher folk of both countries.

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