Pranab seeks Lankan assurance for Tamils’ safety

Pranab seeks Lankan assurance for Tamils’ safety
PTI
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First Published: Wed, Jan 28 2009. 11 00 AM IST
Updated: Wed, Jan 28 2009. 11 00 AM IST
Colombo: Concerned over the plight of Tamils trapped in the war zone in Sri Lanka, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee has said that efforts should be made by the island government to ensure their safety and take the humanitarian situation into consideration.
Mukherjee, who rushed to Colombo on Tuesday to discuss the issue with President Mahinda Rajapakse, said, “We have requested that the basic effort should be to help the civilians and ensure their safety and security”.
The external affairs minister was told that the President has extended an invitation to Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi and AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa to be part of a Tamil delegation to visit the war-ravaged northern parts of the country.
Rajapakse told Mukherjee that the Tamil leaders should see for themselves the situation in the conflict zone.
The minister told the Sri Lankan President that he will convey to Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa his interest that the two leaders visit the island nation.
He also said that the democratic process in Sri Lanka should expeditiously ameliorate the lot of the Tamil civilians in the country.
The minister said that Rajapakse has assured India that Sri Lanka will act as fast as possible to implement the 13th amendment for the power devolution package.
The talks took place as the LTTE fighters struggled to defend their last remaining strongholds in the northern part of the country.
Before leaving for Colombo, Mukherjee told reporters in New Delhi that India has no sympathy for LTTE but wanted to see that civilian Tamils do not become victims of conflict.
The meeting took place at a time when the military claimed to have captured Mullaithivu, the last bastion of LTTE, and that its offensive was ‘95%´ complete.
Mukherjee said, “We are for fight against terrorists and all sorts of terrorism. Therefore, we have no sympathy for any terrorist activity indulged in by any organisation, particularly LTTE (which) is a banned organisation in India.”
At the same time, he said India is concerned over the plight of civilians and “we shall have to see how civilians can be protected and they do not become hapless victims of the situation.”
Pranab’s visit comes in the backdrop of repeated demands by Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi and other political leaders that Mukherjee should be sent to Sri Lanka to ensure an end to military offensive against LTTE.
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First Published: Wed, Jan 28 2009. 11 00 AM IST