Ranil to hold talks with TNA ahead of India visit

Ahead of his first official visit to India this week, Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe will hold talks with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on Tuesday in Parliament in a bid to settle the long-standing Tamil minority demand for political autonomy, sources said on Monday.

The TNA-Wickremesinghe parley is to take place on Tuesday afternoon in Parliament, PTI reported quoting sources.

Wickremesinghe leaves for New Delhi on July 20 and on July 21, the President will meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, officials in the foreign office said.

Since December, Wickremesinghe had opened dialogue with the TNA in a bid to settle the long-standing Tamil minority demand for political autonomy.

Wickremesinghe mooted the idea for full implementation of the India-backed 13th Amendment which came to be opposed by the powerful Buddhist clergy in a case of history repeating itself.

The 13A provides for the devolution of power to the Tamil community in Sri Lanka. India has been pressing Sri Lanka to implement the 13A which was brought in after the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987.

The Tamil side insisted on resolving the immediate issues of concern such as the release of private lands held for military purposes, the release of Tamil political prisoners and conflict reparations.

Although some of the lands came to be released and a few prisoners were also released but the Tamil side remain largely dissatisfied. A few former militant Tamil parties who are not part of the TNA have also written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to pressure Wickremesinghe into full implementation of the 13th Amendment.

They demand that land and police powers retained by the central government be granted to the northern provincial council including holding of the election postponed since 2018.

Meanwhile, the state minister of fisheries Piyal Nishantha said the thorny issue of illegal fishing in the Sri Lankan waters by Indian fishermen would be discussed during the visit to New Delhi.

PTI

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