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India urges Lanka to end war with LTTE, again

Agencies
Oct 23, 2008 at 08:09pm IST

New Delhi/ Chennai: India on Thursday again urged Sri Lanka to find a political solution to its fight with Tamil rebels but indicated it will not end military cooperation with the country.

"We will not like influx of refugees to Tamil Nadu because of a situation over which we have no control. We are prevailing upon them (Sri Lanka), it is your responsibility to provide food, shelter and medicine to your displaced people," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in the Rajya Sabha.

Last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had urged Sri Lanka to find a political end to the war with LTTE and protect 230,000 displaced Tamil civilians, after protests led by DMK MPs supporting the UPA Government.

NATION ON GUARD: Policemen stand guard outside a census center in Colombo. (file photo)

Sri Lankan troops advanced deeper into areas held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the country’s government has told India a ceasefire with the rebels is not possible.

Mukherjee requested Sri Lanka to “ensure that political dialogue begins” (with the rebels) but was clear that the territorial integrity of the country has to be maintained.

"There is no military solution to the ethnic conflict. What is required in Sri Lanka is a peacefully negotiated political settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka respecting the legitimate rights of the minorities, including the Tamil community,'' he said.

“We told them (Sri Lanka) that India could give them cooperation and meet their security cooperation—but provided they don’t look here and there, because they are so close to us,” he said.

Senior Indian officials, while visiting Colombo, had told their Sri Lankan counterparts that New Delhi would like to have an overall assessment before meeting their military requirements. This was because "we would not like international players in our backyard", Mukherjee said.

He was responding to the concerns of Leader of the Opposition Jaswant Singh over China, Sri Lanka and Pakistan forging strategic relations in the region.

Mukherjee’s statement came after MDMK leader Vaiko was arrested in Chennai Thursday on sedition charges for giving speeches supporting the LTTE.

A group of students pelted stones at the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in Chennai Thursday afternoon, breaking the windowpanes at its entrance.

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