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SL peace bid: India unlikely to join co-chairs

But it remains supportive of the efforts of the co-chairs to solve Lankan crisis, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: May 16, 2006 16:59 IST

India is unlikely to join the co-chairs of the Tokyo Donors' Conference and become an active participant in the Sri Lankan peace process, highly placed sources in New Delhi told Hindustan Times.

They denied reports that the Japanese special peace envoy for Sri Lanka, Yasushi Akashi, had requested India to join the co-chairs.

All that the Japanese envoy had asked was that India help the co-chairs in any way it was comfortable with, the sources said.

Akashi had met Indian leaders in New Delhi last week.

Prior to his departure for India, Akashi had told the media in Colombo that Japan had requested India to join the co-chairs and that the "indications" from New Delhi were "positive."

He even said that at the Tokyo conclave of the co-chairs, to be held later in May, appropriate procedures would be worked out to enable India to participate comfortably. 

However, sources in New Delhi said that India's policy in regard to the Sri Lankan peace process remained the same, namely, to "exercise influence without involvement."

Cap on internationalisation

New Delhi also feels that given President Mahinda Rajapaksa's policy of capping the internationalisation of the ethnic conflict at the existing level, there was no scope for a greater Indian involvement.

Rajapaksa had told Colombo-based The Sunday Times on May 14, that the Sri Lankan ethnic problem should not have been internationalised in the first place, and that he would not internationalise it any more than it had already been.

Rajapaksa's line accords with the Indian view that the ethnic problem in the island would have to be resolved internally, with a homegrown solution emerging from an internal consensus-building process.

India full backs co-chairs, Norway

Although India too favours a domestic effort to find a lasting solution, it is not at all uncomfortable with the current level of internationalisation, and is fully supportive of the efforts of the co-chairs and the Norwegian peace facilitators.

In fact, India has told Sri Lanka very clearly, that there is no scope for replacing Norway as the facilitator.

Sources said that New Delhi's line in this regard was: "It's either Norway or no foreign facilitation at all."

Tamils's view on India's joining co-chairs

Meanwhile, the pro-LTTE Tamils have seen Japan's bid to rope in India as a co-chair of the Tokyo conference, as an admission of the co-chairs' failure to register any progress in resolving the ethnic conflict.

This is reflected in an editorial in the Colombo-based Tamil daily Sudar Oli on Monday.

The edit said that involving India would not help matters if New Delhi's policy towards the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict remained the same.

The pro-LTTE Tamils feel that India is subtly supporting the Sri Lankan government and the majority Sinhala community.

Tamil dailies, which generally reflect the LTTE point of view, point out that while Indian leaders regularly entertain Sri Lankan government political leaders, the pro-LTTE Tamil leaders like the MPs of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) are shunned.

Sudar Oli said that India should depart from its policy on the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict, and chalk out a fresh policy based on a correct understanding of the Tamil struggle in the island, and the role of the LTTE in that struggle.

India should forget the bitter experience of past involvement in the ethnic conflict, "embrace Tamil nationalism" and shed its anti-LTTE stance, the paper suggested.

The editorial pointed out that the Tamils and the LTTE looked upon India "proudly" as their "Fatherland".

If India did not adopt a revised posture, history would be repeated and that would not be good for India, the paper warned.