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Sri Lanka against moves to isolate Pakistan

cricket Updated: Mar 07, 2009 19:32 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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Sri Lanka has told the United States that it would oppose any move to isolate Pakistan over the attack carried out on Lankan cricketers in Lahore on March 3.

Several Lankan cricketers were injured on their way to Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore for the second Test match when armed gun men fired and lobbed grenades at the bus the cricketers were traveling.

"The Minister (Rohitha Bogollagama) categorically expressed Sri Lanka’s firm opposition to isolate Pakistan in the sporting arena or in any manner internationally over this incident," a Lankan foreign ministry statement said on Saturday.

Bogollagama conveyed the message during a phone conversation with US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian & Central Asian Affairs, Richard Boucher, late on Friday.

Bogollagama briefed Boucher on the discussions he had held with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad, including President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during his Pakistan visit after the attack.

Boucher offered US assistance into the investigation. Bogollagama informed Boucher that he was satisfied with the assurances given by the Pakistani leadership that no effort will be spared to apprehend the culprits and bring them to justice. ``Moreover, the Pakistani leaders had offered to share complete details of their investigation with the Sri Lankan authorities,’’ the statement said.

The Lankan foreign minister said that it was not possible to rule out the role of the LTTE in the terror attack, given the high degree of sophistication of the planning and the evidence of a nexus between terrorist groups worldwide.

On the issue of the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, Boucher said that the US Government was aware that the LTTE was firing at Sri Lankan security forces from among the civilians, and hoped that the latter would exercise restraint and not take retaliatory action.

Bogollagama urged the US to use its considerable influence on the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora to exert pressure on the LTTE to free the innocent civilians, in line with similar demands on the LTTE by other quarters of the international community.