8:22 AM

President takes up Lankan issue with Indian PM

President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday made a special telephone call to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to allay increasing Indian concerns that civilians in the north are allegedly coming to harm due to the current military drive to defeat the LTTE, The Nation reliably learns.

Tiger proxies in Tamil Nadu have been pressing the central government in recent days, to intervene on behalf of the Tamils, to halt the military drive and threatening to pull out support to the ruling coalition government, if it fails to comply with their request. The ruling coalition has been weakened, since the left parties pulled out their support in protest over the nuclear deal with the US.

Sources said that, the President, who spoke to the Indian Premier in the presence of Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga around 1:00 pm, had requested Dr Singh to send his Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Sri Lanka, in order to get a firsthand account of the prevailing situation here.
Soon after the conversation between the two leaders, Mr. Bogollagama had extended a formal invitation to his counterpart in Delhi, to make an early visit to Sri Lanka

The President had given a detailed account to Dr Singh, on painstaking steps taken to avoid civilian casualties and also to maintain essential supplies to war affected areas, as was done during the successful operation to capture the East.
He had emphasised that, the war is being conducted with minimum collateral damage to property and persons, bearing well in mind the welfare of the civilian population in the Wanni region.

As for the repeated request of the Indians to place a political solution to resolve the problem, President Rajapaksa had assured that it would be extended no sooner the LTTE was disarmed.
President Rajapaksa had also expressed concern of the difficult position Dr Singh’s government was placed in due to increasing agitations in Tamil Nadu over the Sri Lankan problem and had assured full cooperation to his government to tackle the issue.
President Rajapaksa had also proposed solving the fishing disputes between the two countries through regular, close consultations between the Navies of the two countries.