Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa today left for a two-day personal visit to India during which he will offer prayers at Bodh Gaya and Tirupathi but will not engage with Indian leaders.

He would visit Bodh Gaya and Tirupathi and the visit is of a personal nature, the presidential officials said here.

Rajapaksa would not be visiting New Delhi, the officials asserted, dismissing notions that the Sri Lankan President might engage some of the Indian leaders with a view to seeking New Delhi’s support on the US-moved resolution against Sri Lanka at the next UN Human Rights Council sessions in March.

Sri Lankan forces had crushed Tamil rebels in May 2009 after nearly three decades of brutal fighting. The conflict claimed up to 1,00,000 lives, according to UN estimates, and both sides are accused of war crimes.

Sri Lanka, while formulating an action plan for implementation, maintained that most of the recommendations were already put into effect.

At the UN Human Rights Council session last year, the India-backed US sponsored resolution urged the Sri Lankan Government to show progress on reconciliation.

Despite the private nature of the visit, the Indian authorities have extended full security cooperation for the Sri Lankan President’s visit, Prasad Kariyawasam, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in India, said.

“The President would be given full protection by the Indian authorities,” Kariyawasam said.

Some groups in Chennai have been opposing the Rajapaksa visit and had urged the Indian Government to cancel it.

(This article was published on February 8, 2013)
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