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'Lanka takes PM's remarks seriously'

October 16, 2008 17:22 IST

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A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] asked Sri Lanka [Images] to settle the ethnic issue through dialogue, Colombo made it clear that it will keep in mind his observations while dealing with the situation.

"It will presumptuous for me to comment on the prime minister's statement. I have read about the statement in the media. What I can say is that whatever the prime minister has said it will be regarded as most important by Sri Lanka," High Commissioner C R Jayasinghe told reporters on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi [Images].

"This is in the spirit of the warm and friendly relations between India and Sri Lanka," he said.

Jayasinghe comments came when he was asked to react to Singh's statement on Wednesday that 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".

Singh had also underlined that the human rights of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka must be respected.

Jayasinghe said India is "very dear" to the people of Sri Lanka and rejected any notion of relationship between the two neighbours coming under a strain.

Noting that Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic country, the envoy insisted that the government treats all its citizens equal.

Jayasinghe said sometimes problems may come up between the two countries which share "very valuable links geographically".

"Whatever the problems may come up it is the intention of the people and the government of Sri Lanka to address any of these issues keeping in mind the best interests of the bilateral relationship," he said.

The prime minister's comments came amid mounting pressure from Tamil political parties over the situation in Sri Lanka.

An all-party meeting convened by the Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday demanded that the Centre should act to stop military offensive in Sri Lanka failing which all MPs from the state would quit within a fortnight.

Jayasinghe parried questions on Indian fishermen being allegedly targeted by the Sri Lankan Navy and about the measures taken by the government in the island nation to end the civilian casualties.

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