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In first public engagement in two months, Sonia Gandhi meets Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe

The Congress delegation inquired about the prospects of the merger of the northern and eastern provinces.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
October 6, 2016 1:52:19 am
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After remaining out of action for over two months due to ill-health, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Wednesday made her first public appearance. With her left hand in a sling, she reached a Delhi hotel to meet visiting Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe. Sonia met Wickremesinghe along with former PM Manmohan Singh and senior party leader Anand Sharma.

On August 2, the Congress chief had collapsed during a road show in Varanasi after which she was in hospital for nearly two weeks. She was confined to her 10, Janpath residence after being discharged from hospital on August 14. Barring a couple of top leaders, she had also not seen anyone. Last week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had met her to brief her about the surgical strikes in PoK.

That day, Sonia had held a meeting with top Congress leaders, including Manmohan Singh, A K Antony and Ghulam Nabi Azad, to formulate the party’s response to the strikes.

During Wednesday’s meeting with Sonia, Wickremesinghe gave an overview of the political developments in his country, including the extension of the MoU between his and President Maithripala Sirisena’s party from two to five years, the steps being taken for drafting of the new Constitution and the progress in devolution of more powers to the Sri Lankan Tamils.

The Congress delegation inquired about the prospects of the merger of the northern and eastern provinces. The Sri Lankan side told the Congress leadership that their government was establishing a truth and reconciliation commission. Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera was also present in the meeting.

Congress sources said India’s stand-off with Pakistan and issues related to investment and trade too came up for discussion.

With China in mind, Wickremesinghe assured the Congress delegation that Colombo is sensitive to India’s concerns about regional security and access to its naval facilities. He told the Congress leadership that terrorism is a shared threat.

As far as the SAARC summit is concerned, he reiterated his government’s line that the atmosphere is not conducive for holding of the summit.

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