India tonight welcomed Sri Lankan government's announcement that its army would allow a safe passage to Tamil civilians trapped in northern parts of the island nation and hoped they would be able to move to safety from the area of conflict between military and LTTE.
"India welcomes this important announcement and hopes that with implementation of these steps, the condition of civilians caught in those conflict areas will improve," Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters in New Delhi.
He was reacting to the announcement by President Mahinda Rajapaksa that civilians trapped in northern areas will be allowed a "safe passage".
Menon noted that safety of civilians trapped in northern areas was one of the issues discussed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee with Rajapaksa during his visit to Colombo on Tuesday.
"We are happy to see the steps being taken by Sri Lanka and we hope that all civilians will be able to move to safety," the Foreign Secretary said.
Menon's reaction came soon after Rajapaksa made the announcement in Colombo asking civilians in the north to move out of LTTE-held areas for their "physical safety" and "freedom".