A week before Sri Lanka’s human rights record comes up for review before a United Nations panel, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh advocated direct talks between Colombo and the Tamil leadership.

While External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday promised that India would take the “best decision” on Sri Lanka before the United Nations Human Rights Council but revealed little about New Delhi’s stand, the Prime Minister was more direct on Friday.

“It will be our effort to work with the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that Tamil population in Sri Lanka is given a chance to lead a life of dignity and self-respect as equal citizens of that country,” Dr. Singh told the Rajya Sabha, replying to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address.

“There are problems in Sri Lanka. We have been worried about the fate of Tamil people. It has been our effort to plead with the Government of Sri Lanka that there must be political reconciliation, that without national reconciliation, the situation cannot remain calm. The Sri Lankan government must, therefore, take the initiative to talk to the Tamil leadership in Sri Lanka,” Dr. Singh said.