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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2793

Delhi to Colombo: 'Protect Tamils; Tells LTTE to stop its barbarism of holding civilians'

By M Rama Rao, India Editor, Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 23 April ( After a high External Affairs Minister Pranab MukherjeeExternal Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjeelevel review of the 'catastrophic' situation in Northern Sri Lanka, India has asked Rajapaksa government to protect innocent Tamils and told the LTTE to end its 'barbaric' attempts of holding civilians as hostages.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon attended the meeting held at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence here late Wednesday night.

Pranab and Antony cut short their electioneering in West Bengal and Kerala to join the consultations Singh wanted to have at very short notice.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi spoke to Prime Minister Singh on the Sri Lankan issue, according to party leaders, who said that the Congress would not join the DMK sponsored general strike in Tamilnadu on Thursday though the party supports the strike call. The party for the first time on Wednesday, called for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka, thus closing ranks with other Tamil Nadu parties on Sri Lankan issue.

'We are very unhappy at the continued killing of innocent Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka. These killings must stop', Pranab told reporters at the end of one hour long meeting summoned after the Lanka Army entered what is final push phase of its long drawn war against the Tigers.

The Indian Minister appeared to adopt an even approach. One the one hand he reminded the Sri Lankan government of its responsibility to protect its own citizens. And on the other hand , he made it clear that 'LTTE must stop its barbaric attempt to hold civilians hostage'.

Pranab stuck to the long held Indian position that there was 'no military solution to this ongoing humanitarian crisis and all concerned should recognize this fact'. He reiterated that political efforts should be made to address the real concerns of the Tamil people and to give them a life of dignity within the Sri Lankan mainstream. India will work to achieve this goal and do all it could to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis, he said asserting that only political solution would end the Tamil imbroglio.

Delhi is still unclear as to how long the military offensive would continue. That question depends on Colombo's plans and goals and on Prabhakaran, the elusive Tiger chief. It is however gearing up for a long drawn humanitarian crisis.

In the meantime, The Congress party, in a statement has also repeated the same view that a lasting solution to the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka would be possible 'only through democratic and political means' and 'not through military campaigns'.

-Asian Tribune -

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