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India won't play active role in Lankan peace: Minister

The Defence Minister said a pro-active and active participation in Lankan peace talks will complicate the issue instead of resolving it.

india Updated: Jun 03, 2006 18:30 IST

India fully supports the peace process in Sri Lanka but will not play an active role because it may "complicate" the situation, Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Saturday.

Mukherjee said during a question-and-answer session at a high-level security meeting in Singapore that "India is not actively participating in this process" because of ethnic reasons and its proximity to Sri Lanka.

India believes a "pro-active and active participation will complicate the issue instead of resolving it, but we stand fully behind the peace process which has been initiated," the minister said.

Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday launched talks with opposition parties to hammer out a plan to grant autonomy to separatist Tamil rebels.

Violence has recently escalated in Sri Lanka, where more than 600 people have been killed since December despite a 2002 ceasefire between Tamil Tiger rebels and the Colombo government and its troops.

India has in the past offered support for the peace process but refrained from getting involved in the conflict following its disastrous military intervention during the 1980s.

New Delhi dispatched a peacekeeping force to Tamil-held regions but ended up battling the rebels, and finally withdrew its forces after more than 1,200 Indian troops had died.

Subsequently a Tamil female suicide bomber killed former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who had ordered the deployment to Sri Lanka.

First Published: Jun 03, 2006 17:34 IST