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PM rubbishes talk of sending army to Lanka

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today favoured a solution to the problems of Tamils within the framework of a united and federal Sri Lanka, notwithstanding Tamil parties including ally DMK pitching for a separate Eelam.

india Updated: May 09, 2009 21:24 IST

India is doing what it can to help the beleaguered Tamil community in Sri Lanka lead “a life of dignity and honour”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday.

The prime minister told journalists while on a campaign tour here that he was “deeply concerned over the very difficult situation in Sri Lanka” where thousands have died in a military onslaught aimed at crushing the Tamil Tigers.

“This has caused great concern to people everywhere. We are doing all we can to ensure that the Tamil people in Sri Lanka are assured a life of dignity, peace and honour in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Manmohan Singh said the Indian government's topmost concern was to provide relief and succour to the mass of Tamil civilians displaced from the truncated war zone still held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

India also wanted the fighting to end, he said. “Our position in the past is that we would certainly want Tamil people to get (a settlement) where they can lead a life with dignity and respect.”

Manmohan Singh emphasised that any solution to the conflict in the island nation needed to be found “within a unified Sri Lanka”.

Without taking names, the prime minister ridiculed Tamil Nadu politicians who have threatened to send the Indian Army to Sri Lanka to carve out an independent Tamil state.

“What is possible and what is not possible is a matter of speculation,” he said. “We are dealing with a sovereign country. It is not easy to march armies to a sovereign state. There is a certain thing called international law. I think these are all known to all those who are making these tall promises.”

He denied that the Congress-led government had not shown enough interest over the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

He said he had been “deeply concerned” over the plight of the Tamil people during the last five years he has been the prime minister.

“At every opportunity I have had (to interact) with the president and prime minister of Sri Lanka... on every occasion I have raised this issue. The Tamil people have not had a fair deal, they have justified grievances.”

When it was pointed out to him that some in Tamil Nadu were glorifying the LTTE, which is outlawed in India, Manmohan Singh said: “As far as the government of India is concerned, the LTTE has so far been regarded as a terrorist organisation and that is the policy of the government of India.”

Alliance with DMK to continue

In a bid to mollify its ally, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Congress alliance with DMK has stood the test of time and would continue.

"I can say as of now we are fighting this election in the company of DMK. This alliance has stood the test of time for the last five years," he told a press conference.

Singh said "we will maintain this alliance and form the government".
He was replying to a question whether Congress would have nothing to do with AIADMK in the post-poll scenario.

The Prime Minister's comment came against the backdrop of reports that DMK was sulking after Rahul Gandhi's descri

'Talks only after Pak action on Mumbai attacks'

Prime Minister ruled out resumption of composite dialogue with Pakistan till it takes effective steps to bring to book the culprits of the Mumbai terror attacks.

"Our minimum demand is that Pakistan must take effective steps to bring the culprits of Mumbai massacre to book before we resume our dialogue," he said at a press conference in Chennai. He said India was engaged with Pakistan in the composite dialogue for the last five years until the Mumbai massacre.

Referring to Pakistan's offensive against the Taliban, Singh wished Islamabad well in its efforts. "We wish Pakistan well in its fight against Taliban," he said, adding that the growing influence of Taliban was not in the interest of Pakistan and the South Asia region.

First Published: May 09, 2009 15:51 IST