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India urged to put pressure on LTTE

Amit Baruah

Sri Lankan Minister meets Manmohan

Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

SEEKING SUPPORT: Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Monday.

NEW DELHI: Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Monday said India and the international community should tell the LTTE that the way forward was through dialogue and not violence.

Mr. Samaraweera, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, told The Hindu that he held "very useful discussions" with his interlocutors.

Meeting with leaders

"I briefed the Prime Minister about the current situation in Sri Lanka," he said. Asked whether the situation would spiral towards total war or a salvage job was possible, Mr. Samaraweera said he was "cautiously optimistic."

He said India could give leadership to the international community in telling the LTTE to see reason and return to the negotiating table. He said the U.S. and the European Union, too, were concerned about the LTTE's activities.

Mr. Samaraweera said defence cooperation also figured in the discussions. He said the two sides were hopeful of concluding negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by September. He also held talks with Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, CPI (M) leader Prakash Karat, senior Congress leader Karan Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma and the former External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh.

According to informed sources, the Foreign Minister told Mr. Karat that the Government was trying hard for negotiations with the LTTE, but the Tigers were not being flexible. India, Mr. Samaraweera is learnt to have suggested, should pressure the LTTE to halt its violent activities and return to the negotiating table.

Mr. Karat told Mr. Samaraweera that a peaceful solution could be found with adequate devolution of powers in a federal set-up within the framework of a united Sri Lanka.

Following the meeting between Mr. Samaraweera and Mr. Anand Sharma, the External Affairs Ministry spokesman said Mr. Sharma expressed the hope that the parties in Sri Lanka would resume talks at the earliest.

He said India had noted a Sri Lankan request to support senior diplomat Jayanta Dhanapala's candidature for the post of United Nations Secretary-General.

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