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May 24, 2009 at 03:31pm IST

Tamil grievances to be addressed by SL prez

Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and UN chief Ban Ki-moon have agreed that addressing the grievances of all communities, including Tamils, and working towards a lasting political solution was fundamental to ensuring long-term socio-economic development of Sri Lanka.

While discussing the critical issues of the post-LTTE scenario, the two leaders agreed that the new situation offered opportunities for long-term development of the North and for re-establishing democratic institutions and electoral politics after 25 years, said a joint statement issued at the end of Ban's day-long visit to the island on Sunday.

The UN Secretary General visited the sites for Internallyc Displaced Civilians (IDPs) at Vavuniya and flew over the conflict area near Mullaitivu that was the scene of the conflict.

LEADING THE WAY: Rajapaksa and Ban Ki-Moon have agreed on addressing the grievances of Tamils.

The Sri Lankan government expressed its commitment to ensuring the economic and political empowerment of the people of the North through its programmes, the joint statement said.

Rajapaksa and Ban agreed that addressing the aspirations and grievances of all communities and working towards a lasting political solution was fundamental to ensuring long-term socio-economic development, it said.

The UN Secretary General welcomed the assurance of the President of Sri Lanka contained in his statement in Parliament on May 19 that a national solution acceptable to all sections of people will be evolved.

Rajapaksa expressed his firm resolve to proceed with the implementation of the 13th Amendment on devolution of powers.

He agreed to begin a broader dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil groups, in new circumstances to further enhance this process and to bring about lasting peace and development in Sri Lanka.

With regard to around 3 lakh IDPs, the statement said the UN will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced civilians now in Vavuniya and Jaffna.

Sri Lankan government will also continue to provide access to humanitarian agencies and expedite the necessary basic and civil infrastructure as well as means of livelihood necessary for IDPs to resume normal lives at the earliest.

"The Secretary-General welcomed the announcement by the Government expressing its intention to dismantle the welfare villages at the earliest as outlined in the Plan to resettle the bulk of IDPs and call for its early implementation," the joint statement said.

The Sri Lankan government also sought the cooperation of the international community in mine-clearing, which is an essential prerequisite to expediting the early return of IDPs.

The Secretary General called for donor assistance towards the common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP), jointly launched by the Government of Sri Lanka and the UN which supports the relief, shelter and humanitarian needs of those in IDP sites.

Rajapaksa informed Ban of ongoing initiatives relating to rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-combatants.

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