Sri Lankan foreign minister in India to discuss peace process

NEW DELHI, May 7 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has arrived in India to discuss his country’s peace process which is under strain after a surge in violence, officials said Sunday. During his two-day stay, the minister is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and foreign secretary Shyam Saran.

Ahead of the visit, Indian officials said Samaraweera’s visit will give New Delhi an opportunity to assess the situation in the violence-hit island nation.

“The present visit is timely and, of course, particularly important as it comes at a time when the peace process is delicately poised in Sri Lanka,” foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said last week.

“We will make use of this opportunity to make a first-hand assessment of the situation from the visiting dignitary.”

More than 200 people have died in an escalation in clashes between government forces and rebel Tamil Tigers in the past one month despite a four-year-old ceasefire.

The Tigers have been fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils for the past three decades and over 60,000 people have died.

India has in the past offered support for the peace process but has refrained from getti