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India maintains suspense on UN resolution on Lanka

Last updated on: March 06, 2013 21:06 IST

Notwithstanding intense pressure by Tamil parties, India on Wednesday maintained suspense over its position on a resolution on human rights to be moved against Sri Lanka at the United Nations, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying it will depend on the final draft.

Singh maintained that India wants Sri Lanka to safeguard interest of ethnic Tamils and fulfil its "public commitment" for implementation of 13th amendment on devolution of powers.

"As regards the issue of a draft resolution expected to be tabled by the United States at the forthcoming session of UNHRC in Geneva, our decision will depend on the substance of the final text tabled in the council," Singh said.

"We will, however, be guided by our consistent position that we support proposals that seek to advance the achievement of a future for the Tamil community in Sri Lanka that is marked by equality, dignity, justice and self-respect.

"I wish to assure the House that our government will remain engaged with the government of Sri Lanka to promote a durable settlement of the Tamil problem that enables the Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka to lead a life of dignity and self-respect with equal rights," he said.

Singh was replying to the debate on Motion of Thanks on the President's address in the Lok Sabha.

His statement comes against the backdrop of strong demands by Tamil parties that India should vote in favour of the resolution to be moved by the US at the UNHRC meet in Geneva in the coming days.

Singh called for political settlement of Sri Lankan problem and said "issues of reconciliation need to be addressed with urgency."

He reiterated that elections to Northern province are held at the earliest.

At the same, he said, India will continue to engage with Sri Lanka over the fate of ethnic Tamils as also Indian fishermen.

Lok Sabha will discuss the issue on Thursday.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid also remained evasive on the stand India will take even as it asked Sri Lanka to treat it as a humanitarian issue rather than "a matter of ego".

With the resolution set to be moved on Lankan Tamils at the UN, Khurshid told reporters outside Parliament House that he has asked his Lankan counterpart G L Peiris to work with the US and report progress if any made on the issue to arrive at a draft which is "acceptable to everybody".

"Government will take a stand. As of now I have told my colleague Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka to engage the US. If you have moved forward (on human rights issue), you should bring that to the knowledge of the US to arrive at a consensual draft which is acceptable to everybody," he said.

"It is a humanitarian issue. It is not an issue on which anybody should stand on ceremony or ego. If it is possible, speak to them directly and find a suitable and acceptable draft," he said.

The US is set to move a new resolution against Sri Lanka at the current session of the UN Human Rights Council for its alleged war crimes, asking the country to promote reconciliation and accountability.

The resolution will ask the government of Sri Lanka to follow through on its own commitments to its people, including implementing the constructive recommendations from the report by Sri Lanka's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

Tamil parties are up in arms after fresh allegations about human rights violations against ethnic Tamils by Sri Lankan forces, in the wake of charges that 12-year-old son of slain LTTE Chief V Prabhakaran was shot dead in cold blood.

In an attempt to mount pressure on the government, MPs of DMK, a major partner of the ruling UPA, on Tuesday wore black shirt while attending House proceedings.

They also held a protest inside Parliament House complex on the issue.

Congress MPs from Tamil Nadu have already told party Vice President Rahul Gandhi that India should take a stern stand against Sri Lanka at the upcoming UN meet on Tamils issue as it was crucial for the party's future in the state.

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