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'Lanka informed India of every step'

Sri Lanka government, which has been accused of war crimes, claims President Mahinda Rajapaksa kept New Delhi informed about the developments during the last months of conflict with separatist Tamil rebels. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.

world Updated: Jun 01, 2011 02:33 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The Sri Lanka government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa had gone out of its way to keep New Delhi informed about the developments during the last months of conflict between government troops and separatist Tamil rebels, defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said on Tuesday.

Rajapaksa was delivering the keynote address during the opening session of the three-day international seminar titled `Defeating Terrorism – the Sri Lankan Experience’ organised by the Sri Lanka army (SLA). The seminar is co-sponsored by China.

Rajapaksa, who is President Rajapaksa’s younger brother, said the SLA was on the verge of defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1987 when the rebels were saved by Indian intervention.

India, worried by the siege of Jaffna by the SLA, had airdropped supplies over the peninsula and had also rescued LTTE leader, V Prabhakaran.

Partially recalling the incident, the defence secretary said international relations including with India were not managed well at that time.

But during the last phase of the conflict in 2009 and before, communication between Colombo and New Delhi was maintained well. He said two teams of senior officials, including the defence secretary himself, kept in regular contact. "These teams had continuous discussions,’’ he said.

He added that other nations could mount pressure on Sri Lanka through diplomatic channels and on economic lines. But India could directly influence the military campaign in Sri Lanka. President Rajapaksa understood this and managed it well, he said.

The SLA has claimed participants from 41 countries were expected to attend the seminar. India for one has send three colonels to take part in the proceedings.

But the seminar has come under the cloud of allegations of human rights violations by the SLA and global rights agencies had given a call to ban the seminar.

The US, UK, France, Australia and Japan are among the countries not attending the seminar.