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Govt calls all-party meet on Sri Lanka crisis on Tuesday; Sitharaman, Jaishankar to brief MPs

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New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will brief leaders of various political parties on the Sri Lankan crisis during an all-party meeting on Tuesday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said on Sunday.

During a meeting of all parties convened ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, Tamil Nadu-based DMK and AIADMK demanded that India should intervene in the crisis surrounding the neighbouring country, Sri Lanka, which is facing a debilitating economic crisis.

Both DMK and AIADMK raised the Sri Lankan issue, especially the condition of the country’s Tamil population.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, AIADMK leader M Thambidurai said India should intervene to resolve the crisis in Sri Lanka.

DMK leader T R Baalu also demanded India’s intervention in addressing the situation confronting the island nation.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Union minister Joshi said the government would hold an all-party meeting on the Sri Lanka situation on Tuesday which will be chaired by union ministers Sitharaman and Jaishankar.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis in seven decades, with a severe foreign exchange shortage hampering the import of essentials including food, fuel and medicines.

The economic crisis also sparked a political crisis in the country after a popular uprising against the government.

Citing an office memorandum dated July 16, a senior government official said that the briefing by the finance and external affairs ministries has been scheduled for the evening of July 19, the second day of the monsoon session of Parliament.

The briefing will be attended by the floor leaders of various political parties, the official added.

The monsoon session will begin on July 18 and is scheduled to continue till August 12.

India has assured Sri Lanka that it will continue to support democracy, stability and economic recovery in the country, which is at a crucial juncture, amid the unprecedented political crisis and economic turmoil.

The assurance was given to Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena by India’s High Commissioner Gopal Baglay when he called on the Sri Lankan leader on Saturday.

The meeting took place a day after Speaker Abeywardena accepted the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis also sparked a political upheaval in the country after a popular uprising against the government forced Rajapaksa to flee the country and resign as president.

The island nation off the tip of southeast India needs about USD 5 billion in the next six months to cover basic necessities for its 22 million people, who have been struggling with long queues, worsening shortages and power cuts.

India has been the principal source of foreign assistance to Sri Lanka this year.

Sri Lankan protesters have vowed to continue their struggle for a complete change of the system by abolishing the presidency, as the popular uprising that ousted Gotabaya Rajapaksa as president marked the 100th day on Sunday.

The anti-government protest began on April 9 near the presidential office and has been continuing without a break.

Rajapaksa, 73, who fled to the Maldives on Wednesday and then landed in Singapore on Thursday, formally resigned on Friday, capping off a chaotic 72 hours in the crisis-hit nation that saw protesters storm many iconic buildings, including the President and the Prime Minister’s residences here.

Acting president Wickremesinghe appears to be their next target for the protesters and the campaign to oust him has already begun.

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