UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday telephoned Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa amid growing international concern over the plight of thousands of civilians trapped in the island's northern war zone.
The president's office said in a statement late Thursday night that the UN chief, who was in New Delhi, had a telephone conversation with President Rajapaksa in the evening on the situation in Sri Lanka.
"President Mahinda Rajapaksa today told the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the current military operations to defeat terrorism in Sri Lanka would be carried out without harassment to the civilian population in the north," the statement said.
"President Rajapaksa was responding to inquiries by Mr Ban Ki-moon about the progress of operations against the LTTE's terrorism, and the situation regarding the civilians in the affected areas in the north of Sri Lanka," it said.
According to the statement, the UN Secretary General was also told that the Sri Lankan security forces were "compelled to carry out a humanitarian operation against a brutal terrorist organization, as the government considered the freeing of the Tamil people from the suffering they were undergoing under the forces of terror as its responsibility".
"In the telephone conversation that lasted more than 15 minutes, President Rajapaksa brought to the attention of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the LTTE had paid no heed to the recent call made by the Tokyo Co-Chairs for them to seek modalities for ending hostilities, including the laying down of arms and renunciation of violence," the president's office said.