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Lanka: Rajapakse speaks in Tamil at UN

September 26, 2008 15:34 IST

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, who perhaps became the first Head of State to speak in Tamil at the UN General Assembly, has conveyed that the government puts the language on equal status with that of Sinhala, a top minister said.

"The President's actions (on Wednesday) makes its clear that we are a government committed to promoting and nurturing diversity," Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said.

"It was a very strong signal to the people of the north and east that Tamil, an official language of Sri Lanka [Images], is used and respected by the head of state and government," the minister told a meeting.

Rajapakse, who spoke a few lines in Tamil said, "While my mother tongue is Sinhala, let me elaborate a few thoughts in Tamil. Sinhala and Tamil are the two languages of the people of Sri Lanka. Both these have been used through the centuries, are rich in literature and are widely used in my country with recognition as official languages."

"With the widening of democracy in our country, the bonds between the Sinhala and Tamil people of Sri Lanka will grow and remain a major force for its future development.

"We will march towards a richer freedom and lasting unity that await us as a nation," the President said.

Rajapakse had used Tamil in an extempore speech in Colombo during a meeting a few months ago. 




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