Sri Lanka leader Rajapaksa in talks with Indian leaders

Image caption,
President Rajapaksa is meeting Indian leaders (Picture: Sudath Silva)

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been holding talks in Delhi at the start of a three-day visit to India.

It is his first visit to India since his re-election, and comes a year after troops defeated Tamil rebels.

India gave Colombo military support in its fight against the Tamil Tigers and did not question its tactics.

Meanwhile the main Tamil party in Sri Lanka has appealed to donors not to forget the north, where some 60,000 displaced people remain in camps.

Tamil National Alliance leader R Sampanthan said that while more than 200,000 displaced Tamil civilians had returned to their villages, more than 80% of their former houses were destroyed or damaged beyond repair.

Most schools were also ruined, he said.

The governments of India and Sri Lanka are due to launch a massive housing programme in the north and east of the island


Reports say that the Indian government wants President Rajapaksa to show that he plans to give Tamils some measure of self-governance.

Tens of millions of ethnic Tamils live in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

They are concerned with how the Sinhalese-dominated Sri Lankan state treats its own Tamil minority, the issue that led to decades of ethnic war.

President Rajapaksa met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the two sides signed a number of trade and economic pacts.

Reports said the discussions were also to cover the opening of two Indian consulate offices in Sri Lanka, including one in the Tamil-dominated Jaffna area.

Image caption,
Protesters say innocent Tamils were killed in the war

Ahead of Mr Rajapaksa's arrival in Delhi, protests were held in Tamil Nadu.

Hundreds of demonstrators, including the leader of the regional MDMK party, Vaiko, were detained. They were later released.

The protesters alleged Mr Rajapaksa was "responsible for the death of many innocent Tamils" and giving him a red carpet welcome was "a betrayal against Tamils".

Sri Lanka's Tamils account for 12.5% of the island's 20 million population.

Up to 100,000 people were killed in the island's 25-year civil war, the United Nations estimates.