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Lankan situation is of serious concern: Dr Singh

October 15, 2008 17:28 IST
Last Updated: October 15, 2008 18:42 IST


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As Tamil members of Parliament mounted pressure on the Centre over the incidents in Sri Lanka [Images], Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on Wednesday said the situation in the island nation is a cause for "serious concern" and asked Colombo to find a negotiated settlement rather than looking for a "military victory".

Underlining that the human rights of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka must be respected, Dr Singh said India has conveyed its views to the island government, including at the time when National Security Adviser M K Narayanan called Sri Lanka's deputy high commissioner last week.

"The situation in Sri Lanka remains a cause of serious concern for India. We are concerned over escalating hostilities, losses suffered by civilians and increasing number of displaced persons," Dr Singh said in reply to a question at a press conference after the India-Brazil-South Africa Summit in Delhi [Images].

"We always believe that situation in Sri Lanka does not call for military victory. It calls for negotiated political settlement, which respects the unity and the integrity of Sri Lanka and at the same time respects the essential human rights of minorities, particularly Tamil minorities," he said.

The prime minister said India is also "concerned over the harassment and killing of Indian fishermen" while fishing in maritime area between India and Sri Lanka.

"We have made representations to the Sri Lankan government," he said and referred to the summoning of Sri Lanka's deputy high commissioner by Narayanan last week to "let know of India's intentions".

The prime minister's comments came against the backdrop of an all-party meeting in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday demanding that the Centre should act to stop military offensive in Sri Lanka failing which all MPs from the state would quit within a fortnight.

Meanwhile, the Congress on Wednesday appeared to indicate that the Indian government had limitations on the issue of Sri Lankan Army offensive in the Tamil-inhabited areas of the island.

"Those who make demands about other sovereign countries should know that India's sovereignty runs through the boundaries of India," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said adding it cannot interfere with the sovereignty of other countries.

His comments came as a reaction to an all-party meeting in Tamil Nadu asking the Central government to urge Sri Lanka to end the offensive in Tamil areas within a fortnight failing which MPs from the state would resign from Parliament.

Singhvi said issues of and conduct of foreign relations should be left to the Centre. "That is something in the exclusive domain of the Centre (foreign relation issue)," he told Times Now channel.

"While condemning any violent act in another country, I do not think anything should be done or asked from the Central government," he added.




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