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Sri Lankan President meets with Tamil leaders

By Iqbal Athas, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sri Lankan president meets with Tamil leaders
  • President says he will soon address Tamil grievances
  • Will address issues of internally displace people

Colombo, Sri Lanka (CNN) -- Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Monday assured the country's main Tamil political parties his government would soon address grievances of the Tamil minority.

The assurance came during meetings between two different political parties representing the Tamil community in parliament.

The groups are the Tamil National Alliance, a one-time proxy of defeated Tamil Tiger rebels, and the Eelam People's Democratic Party, a partner of the ruling party United People's Freedom Alliance.

"Trust me. We can find a solution to the problems faced by our people," Rajapaksa told the Tamil MPs during a meeting at his official residence in Colombo.

In any political solution affecting the communities, Rajapaksa said, "the people must get the feeling that they are also participating in the solution."

This was Rajapaksa's first meeting with Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians since the Sri Lankan security forces militarily defeated Tamil Tiger rebels. It came just hours ahead of an official visit to New Delhi by Rajapaksa. He is slated to discuss with Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh during his three-day visit the measures his government would take to address Tamil grievances.

Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran said "we agreed to work out a joint mechanism" to explore solutions to Tamil grievances as well as re-settlement of remaining internally displaced persons in camps. The government says that over 30,000 iternally displaced persons still remain in camps after the end of the separatist war last August.

Premachandran told reporters that the structure of the mechanism would be worked out only after President Rajapaksa's return to Colombo from the Indian visit.