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Only dialogue can bring peace in Lanka, says Chandrika
Krishnakumar P in New Delhi | February 18, 2009 01:14 IST
Last Updated: February 18, 2009 11:55 IST
The ongoing war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam cannot be a solution to the ethnic conflict in the island nation and only a negotiated settlement will bring lasting peace in the nation, former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga said in New Delhi [Images] on Tuesday.
Asked about the current situation in Sri Lanka [Images], she told rediff.com: "We are deeply concerned by the killings of innocent civilians.''
The Sri Lankan ex-president was in the capital to participate in a panel discussion on Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar's book on Rajiv Gandhi [Images], A Time of Transition.
Asked to comment on President Mahinda Rajapaksa's approach and what she thought as an ideal way to end the conflict, Kumaratunga, who is also the leader of the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance coalition, said: "I don't think the President wants to listen to me."
Kumaratunga and Rajapaksa haven't always been on good terms ever since her time as President, when he was the prime minister.
During her presidency, there were a number of political and policy issues, including the question of how to deal with the Tigers, on which Kumaratunga disagreed with her own prime minister.
Asked what her suggestion would be to end the conflict with minimum damage, she said talks and negotiations with the Tamil people was the only way out.
"Negotiating a settlement will be the only lasting solution to this conflict," she said.
Earlier, talking in the panel discussion on whether the 21st Century has overtaken Rajiv Gandhi, Kumaratunga, who during her term opened talks with the Tigers which eventually failed, said Rajiv Gandhi and his secular ideal have not been overtaken by the 21st century.
She said Rajiv was heading a government in India at a time when things were very gloomy in Sri Lanka and warranted Indian intervention.
"He was deeply involved in the situation because of the circumstances. That was the time when the pogrom of July 1983, dubbed Black July, had just happened and over 600,000 Tamils fled the country to Tamil Nadu by the time he came to power," she said.
At a personal level, she said she hadn't interacted much with Rajiv, though she remembered the time when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had insisted on former Sri Lankan prime minister and her father Solomon Bandaranayake brining along his children on a visit to India.
"I remember meeting a young Indira Gandhi [Images] and her two sons. We didn't talk much. They were too keen on zipping around in fast cars," she said.
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