DISCUSSES SRILANKAN SITUATION WITH MANMOHAN SINGH
By Walter Jayawardhana
A spokesman for the President of Sri Lanka said that President Mahinda
Rajapaksa had a telephone discussion with the Indian Prime Minister
Dr. Manmohan Singh , October 18.
Mahinda Rajapaksa had a telephone discussion today (18 October
2008) with Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, during which he
briefed the Indian leader on the current situation in the North, where
the security forces are engaged in an operation to disarm the LTTE and
restore democracy, peace and stability to the region, said the statement
issued by the spokesman, Lucien Rajakarunanayaka.
He said during the course of the conversation President Rajapaksa reiterated
that the security forces are under strict instructions to avoid causing
any civilian casualties, during this operation. He also informed Dr.
Singh that Sri Lanka is mindful and appreciative of the concerns of
India regarding the situation in the North, and aware of the context
in which these matters have been raised.
Consequent to this discussion, said the spokesman, Foreign Minister
Rohitha Bogollagama has invited the Indian Minister of External Affairs,
Pranab Mukherjee to undertake a visit to Sri Lanka at an early date.
Both leaders agreed to maintain a dialogue at a high political
level, in keeping with the longstanding and excellent bilateral relations
between India and Sri Lanka it further said..
Earlier other government sources said, to address New Delhi's concerns
over the conflict in Sri Lanka and the concerns of Tamil Nadu politicians
, Colombo would send a high-level delegation to India to keep it abreast
on the prevailing situation in the island nations Kilinochchi
and Mulativu Districts.
Cabinet Minister Laxman Yapa Abeywardena denying any allegations of
Tamil civilians being targeted, said the government knew the difference
between the Tamil civilians and the LTTE terrorists.
In a statement, Abeywardena said the government was making all efforts
to avoid civilian casualties during its intensified operations against
the LTTE in the north.
A senior Foreign Ministry official had earlier said that the government
has put in a "zero-civilian-casualty doctrine" in place in
areas bordering the government-controlled and the LTTE-held areas.
Speaking to reporters , Abeywardena said the Indian government has repeatedly
stated that it wanted eradication of terrorism and that Sri Lanka maintained
close coordination with New Delhi.
"The government will not be able to suspend the ongoing operations
against the LTTE terrorists merely because of protests launched by the
certain people in Tamil Nadu," he had said reiterating the earlier
statement of the Sri Lanka government.