Rajapaksa's re-election may help him bring about settlement with ethnic minorities, says Krishna

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On board from Kuwait, Feb.4 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna on Thursday said with his re-election as the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa is hoped to utilize this opportunity to work for a settlement with all ethnic minorities in his country.

Addressing mediapersons on board the special aircraft while returning from Kuwait, Krishna said: "We sincerely hope that President Rajapaksa will utilise this mandate which has been given in his favour to bring about a settlement with all the ethnic minorities in that country. So that a new beginning with a sense of new hope can be initiated in Sri Lanka."

Last October, India offered Sri Lanka 100 million dollars to help war refugees return home and rebuild the country's ravaged north, as New Delhi sought to engage in the island nation's post-war reconstruction and retain influence.

A similar aid package was given by New Delhi to Sri Lanka in July 2009 after the Sri Lankan government announced victory in a 25-year war against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Some 260,000 Tamil refugees, who fled fighting in the waning months of the war, are now being held in military-run camps. Western countries, India and the United Nations are pressing the government to send them home.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said 70-80 percent of the refugees would be resettled by January. So far, about 15,000 have been sent home.

Rajapaksa, who has won Sri Lanka's first post-war national election on Jan. 27, has promised to sit down with the Tamil minority to discuss devolution of power, on which he dragged his feet by citing the need to finish elections first. By Ravinder Singh Robin(ANI)

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