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India doesn't supply arms to Lanka, says Sri Lankan army chief

July 01, 2008 23:09 IST

Sri Lanka [Images] has made it clear that India does not supply arms to the strife-torn island nation, saying that it understood New Delhi "political compulsions" in this regard.
    
"We have good relations with India. If India can supply arms to us then we do not have to go anywhere. We understand New Delhi's political compulsions," Si Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka said.
    
His comments came days after a high-level Indian delegation comprising National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh [Images] visited Sri Lanka in a closely-guarded trip, sparking speculation in the media that New Delhi may supply arms to Colombo.
    
Fonseka, who was interacting with foreign correspondents at the military headquarters here yesterday, said India was already training 800 Sri Lankan officers every year free of charge.
    
While Sri Lanka has been buying arms from Pakistan and China, it has not succeeded in procuring them from India.
    
In reply to another question on whether India would be permitted to provide its own elaborate security arrangements for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's [Images] visit to Colombo for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in August, Fonseka said all heads of state had their own security during such meetings.
    
While refusing to divulge whether India had sought to have its own security for Singh, Fonseka said New Delhi could bring its own aircraft, helicopters and Navy ships to guard the Indian delegation.
    
"We could have shortages of helicopters and India could bring them for the summit," Fonseka said.
    
Replying  to another question, Fonseka said "if there is a requirement of help from the Indian Navy and Air Force for a
specific purpose, we would seek help from New Delhi."
    
Considering the sporadic incidents of claymore mine and bomb attacks on sensitive targets by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the security arrangements for the Indian Prime Minister is expected to be elaborate.
    
The Sri Lankan Army chief said despite the ongoing war with LTTE, Colombo would be able to provide adequate security for the SAARC summit.
    
Fonseka, who himself narrowly escaped an assassination bid in April 2006 when a woman suicide bomber targeted him inside the high-security army headquarters complex, said ongoing operations against the LTTE would not come in the way of providing foolproof security for the summit.
    



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