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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Second Foreign Leader visited Jaffna After 28 Years--Modi!

By on Saturday, March 14, 2015


Second Foreign Leader visited Jaffna After 28 Years--Modi!

Homeless Tamils in Sri Lanka during civil war received possession of new houses in Jaffna-- PTI
         Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Sri Lanka's former war zone and Tamil heartland of Jaffna and gave houses to the homeless 27000 Tamils in first phase.The houses were built with Indian assistance as part of India’s efforts to help in the reconciliation process. Modi, addressed parliament during his visit, was only the second foreign leader to visit Jaffna, the centre of bitter fighting between government forces and Tamil rebels seeking independence.

        Modi's visit has come a month after Sri Lanka's new President Maithripala Sirisena travelled to New Delhi to rebuild ties hit by tensions over growing Chinese influence on the strategically located island.
        He was the first Indian leader to address Sri Lanka's parliament since Moraji Desai in February 1979.The first foreign leader to address Sri Lanka's legislature was Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1962 and he was followed by his prime minister daughter Indira Gandhi in April 1973.
Senaratne said Modi also visit the historic city of Anuradhapura, in the north-central part of the island.
Anuradhapura is home to Buddhism's holiest tree, which was brought to Sri Lanka from India over 2,500 years ago and attracts thousands of pilgrims every day.
Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister and the second head of state after Britain's Premier David Cameron to visit Jaffna. (Photo: PTI)
          British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Jaffna and held talks with local Tamil leaders on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit hosted by former president Mahinda Rajapakse in November 2013.
         The Tamil Tiger rebels fought for outright independence for their minority community until they were crushed by the army in May 2009.
        Sri Lanka's new government has said it will focus on reconciliation after the decade-long war, which exposed deep ethnic divisions.
        Sri Lanka's minority Tamils share close cultural ties with those in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu India and Sri Lanka on Friday inked four agreements, including on cooperation in customs, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena here.
         Modi, who arrived here in the morning from Mauritius, was received at the airport by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
         Later, he was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the presidential secretariat. Modi and Sirisena then held delegation level talks after which the two sides inked four agreements.
           The agreements are for exemption from visa for holders of diplomatic passports, cooperation in mutual assistance in customs, an MoU for youth development, and another for establishing a Rabindranath Tagore museum at a Sri Lanka university.
        Welcoming Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Colombo, a leading Tamil group in Canada- home to the largest Tamil diaspora outside Sri Lanka- has urged him to put pressure on new President Maithiripala Sirisena to resolve the dragging ethnic issue.
        "By undertaking (the first bilateral) visit after 28 years by an Indian leader to Sri Lanka, Modi has shown his personal commitment to resolving the issues faced by the people in Sri Lanka, particularly the Tamils in the north and east," the Canadian Tamil Congress said in a statement.
        "Given the recent change of leadership in Sri Lanka, Modi's timely visit could serve as a meaningful step towards bringing lasting peace in Sri Lanka, especially since his visit will include a trip to the Northern Province, something no previous Indian prime minister has done," it said.
       The group said Sri Lanka has consistently ignored calls by human rights organizations to allow the return of Tamil refugees, restore their lands, release detainees and end demilitarization of the north and east.
          "But we are hopeful this important and timely visit by Modi will help expedite the early resolution of the needs of Tamil people in Sri Lanka and hopefully contribute towards rebuilding war-torn areas," it said.
          Welcoming Sirisena's steps towards reconciliation by visiting the northeast and replacing military officials with civilian governors, the statement said: "But the real work surrounding accountability and justice for mass crimes committed during the war have not yet been addressed."
      The Canadian Tamil Congress said the present situation provided a unique opportunity to bring about a lasting political solution to the Sri Lankan crisis.
       "We request Prime Minister Modi to urge the Sri Lankan government to embrace this opportunity and engage the elected Tamil representatives from TNA (Tamil National Alliance).
       "We also hope that Modi and Sirisena can use this opportunity to come to a viable solution for the fisherman's issue in a manner that can be reasonable to all parties involved in the conflict."
      Sri Lanka routinely arrests fishermen from India for intruding into Sri Lankan water. Indian authorities too arrest Sri Lankan fishermen. This has often led to conflict -- and occasionally resulted in deaths.
    There are over 300,000 Sri Lankan Tamils in Canada - their largest concentration outside Sri Lanka.

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