NEW DELHI, India, Jan. 25, Reuter: Sri Lankan President Junius Jayewardene and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi discussed on Monday enforcing a controversial peace pact which has so far failed to end a Tamil rebellion.
The two leaders met for 90 minutes to review the July 1987 accord under which New Delhi has sent more than 37,000 troops to Sri Lanka, an Indian spokesman told reporters.
Both men have been criticized by their domestic opposition because Indian troops have failed to disarm the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam guerrillas and restore peace to the north and east of the Indian Ocean Island.
Gandhi urged Jayewardene to set up an elected provincial council in the north and east as proposed in the pact to give limited autonomy to the minority Tamils. Jayewardene has said’ elections would be held after peace was restored.
The guerrillas rejected the accord and pressed ahead with their four year old war for a Tamil homeland which has killed more than 8,000 people in Sinhalese majority Sri Lanka,
“Gandhi stressed the importance of reviving the political process to bring back normalcy as envisaged in the agreement”, the spokesman said. Jayewardene told Gandhi he “looked forward to the creation of conditions which would allow early elections”, the spokesman said without elaborating.
Jayewardene was met earlier by President Ramaswamy Venkataraman and Gandhi in the capital’s ted sandstone Presidential Palace which was ringed by police commandos,
Security has been tightened ahead of Tuesday’s Republic Day parade where Jayewardene is the Chief Guest. Both he and Gandhi has been the target of attempted assassinations,
Jayewardene proposed a friendship treaty with New Delhi but Indian officials declined to reveal its clauses or say whether it would be signed during Jaywardene’s six day state visit here.
Jayewardene has given no details of the pact but he said on his last visit here in November that it would be similar to a 20year treaty Indo Soviet treaty of the previous year.
He said it would cover use of harbors by foreign powers but would not establish Indian troops in Sri Lanka on a permanent basis.
The Indian spokesman repeated Gandhi’s remark to reporters on Sunday that India had “an open mind” on Jayewardene’s proposal.
Both leaders are under pressure to make the July accord work. Gandhi’s critics accuse him of getting Indian troops bogged down in a war against Tamils whose cause New Delhi once championed.
India has 50 million Tamils of its own and 125,000 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Southern Tamil Nadu state.
Jayewardene has been accused by Sinhalese leaders to giving too much to Tamils and of conceding Sri Lankan authority to India.
The two leaders agreed on the need for the early creation of conditions to all refugees to return to their homes in Sri Lanka, the spokesman added.
Article extracted from this publication >> January 29, 1988