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India favours early peace talks in Lanka
December 28, 2005 20:09 IST
India on Wednesday voiced concern over escalation of violence in Sri Lanka and favoured early talks to strengthen the ceasefire but was non-committal on its direct involvement in the peace process.
The situation and status of peace process in the island nation figured prominently in the talks that visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajakapse had with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Other bilateral issues like increasing cooperation in economic and energy areas also came up at the meeting.
Briefing reporters on the 40-minute meeting, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said India was concerned over the recent escalation of violence and 'repeated violations' of the ceasefire in Sri Lanka.
This trend, he said, could 'only undermine the search for a negotiated political settlement, which is critical for maintenance of peace and for resumption of talks aimed at finding a just solution' to Sri Lanka's ethnic problems.
He said Rajapakse briefed Dr Singh of his assessment of the current status of the peace process in Sri Lanka. Sarna said, "Both sides agreed that peace talks aimed at strengthening the ceasefire should begin at the earliest."
Asked whether India was ready to play a greater role in the Sri Lankan peace process as desired by Rajapakse, the spokesman evaded a direct reply, saying New Delhi's position was 'well known' in this regard.
India has been cautious in getting directly involved in the peace process, despite calls made by various sections, including the Sri Lankan government, Buddhists and Norwegian negotiators.
Sarna said Rajapakse had welcomed India's commitment to peace and security in Sri Lanka.