Faced with a flat denial from New Delhi that India and Sri Lanka had formed a high level committee of officials on defence relations, the Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat on Sunday admitted that its press release of September 6 on the subject was based on an "incorrect interpretation of the information on the matter."
It regretted the error and apologised to the members of the Indian and Sri Lankan delegations which met in New Delhi on September 3 and 4.
The Policy Research and Information Unit of the Presidential Secretariat clarified that there was "no decision among those who participated in these discussions to establish an Indo-Lanka High Level Committee on defence as stated in the report."
The report on the formation of the panel had been promptly denied in New Delhi by the External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna.
Sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo told Hindustan Times that the formation of a high-level defence panel was discussed at the meeting, but no follow up action was taken.
Although India has strong defence relations with Sri Lanka, it does not want to be seen to be overtly supporting the Sri Lankan government in its military confrontation with the LTTE for fear of alienating the Sri Lankan Tamils and political leaders in Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu leaders feel that India should not militarily aid Colombo to crush the Tamils. And some of the staunchest supporters of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause in Tamil Nadu, like the DMK and the PMK, are part of the UPA government in New Delhi.