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India concerned over Lanka situation

India is concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka and believes there is no military solution to the raging ethnic conflict in the island country, the parliament was told on Wednesday.

delhi Updated: Oct 22, 2008 16:00 IST

India is concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka and believes there is no military solution to the raging ethnic conflict in the island country, the parliament was told on Wednesday.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Lok Sabha that peaceful political settlement was needed to resolve the dispute in the southern neighbour.

“What is required in Sri Lanka is a peacefully negotiated political settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka, respecting the legitimate rights of minorities including the Tamil community,” Mukherjee asserted.

“The situation in Sri Lanka is of serious concern to the government, in particular the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the north (of the island nation).”

Mukherjee said India was concerned about the growing number of internally displaced people there and the plight of civilians caught in the hostilities between the Sri Lankan army and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels.

“We have emphasised to the Sri Lankan government that the safety and the security of civilians must be safeguarded at all costs and that food and essential supplies be allowed to reach them unhindered.”

Mukherjee was speaking amid a din in the lower house of parliament, as many MPs were loudly protesting against the attacks on north Indians in Mumbai and parts of Maharashtra by regional Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activists.

His suo moto speech was disrupted forcing him to table a written statement in the house about India's concerns regarding Sri Lanka - a country that has witnessed fierce gun battles with military claiming to capture many rebel-held areas.

About 250,000 civilians have been displaced. UN aid workers were asked to leave the areas in the north due to what the government says “security concerns”.