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India not forcing us to stop war on LTTE, says Sri Lanka
T V Sriram in Colombo | June 26, 2008 18:28 IST
Sri Lanka [Images] on Thursday refuted allegations that India was compelling the government to end the military offensive against the Tamil Tigers, saying New Delhi only sought a peaceful solution to the decades-long problem.
"As a neighbouring country, India is requesting peace talks but it did not compel the Sri Lankan government to stop the war," Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardane told media-persons. "Sri Lanka is maintaining a strong relationship with India as a neighbouring country," the minister said.
Abeywardane refuted the Marxist Janatha Vimuktha Perumana party's allegations that New Delhi was insisting the government stop the war in the North against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and resume peace talks. A high level Indian delegation led by National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, which also included Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh [Images], had visited Sri Lanka last week.
During their visit they met President Mahinda Rajapakse and other officials including Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse.
Abeywardane also termed it as "baseless" the JVP's charge that Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan has been elected as the chief minister of Eastern Province under pressure from India. Chandrakanthan has been elected chief minister of the Eastern Province following the polls held for the first time after nearly two decades and it was not on the insistence of India, the minister told media-persons on Wednesday.
Abeywardane said President Rajapakse has always reiterated that the doors for peace talks are open but the LTTE must lay down their weapons. Asserting that entire North will be liberated soon, Abeywardane said Rajapakse intended to restore peace and harmony in the Northern province while assuring livelihoods of the public.
"The government conducted a free and fair election in the Eastern Province to let them select their representatives in a democratic way," Abeywardane said.