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India calls off defence talks with Sri Lanka

March 18, 2013 20:17 IST

Amid severe attack by Tamil parties over engagement with Sri Lanka, the government has called off the annual defence dialogue with that country scheduled to start from March 23.

No reason was given for cancellation of the Secretary-level talks which were to be held in New Delhifor three days. "The Annual Defence Dialogue with Sri Lanka has been called off," a source told PTI, adding new dates have not been decided yet.

During the talks, the two sides were to discuss ways to strengthen defence ties and finalise future military exercises.

The decision has come at a time when Tamil Nadu parties are up in arms over India's engagement with Sri Lanka. Tamil parties, including key United Progressive Alliance ally the Dravida Munetra Kazhagam, has been criticising the government for holding training for Sri Lankan forces, which has subsequently been shifted from the south to north India.

However, India has also maintained that it will not cease military ties with Sri Lanka and continue to provide training to its personnel in Indian military academies and institutions.

India had shifted the exercise between the special forces of the two countries from Belgaum in Karnataka to Nahan in Himachal Pradesh.

Likewise, it had also instructed the Navy to hold war games with the Lankan navy away from the waters of four South Indian states. In the recent days, DMK has accused the government of being soft on alleged atrocities by Sri Lankan forces against ethnic Tamils and even threatened to withdraw support if India does not support a resolution against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

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