PM urges Lanka to ensure safety of Tamils

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi, Nov 13 | Updated: Nov 15 2008, 04:39am hrs
Under pressure from its DMK allies, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his bilateral meeting with the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa sought safety and welfare of ethnic Tamils.

The visiting president while apprising Singh about the steps being taken to protect the interests of Tamils, also made it clear that the military offensive against the LTTE will not stop as his government was determined toeliminate" terrorism before initiating the political process of settlement.

According to sources, both leaders also discussed the situation in Sri Lanka, including the LTTE-held North where a military offensive is underway against the Tamil tigers. Though both leaders talked about the about thehumanitarian" aspect of the conflict, Singh asked the Sri Lankan leader to ensure protection and welfare of innocent Tamils caught in the war, the sources said.

Singh also emphasised that the interests of innocent civilians should be protected even while dealing with terrorism, sources added. Earlier at a joint press conference of the Bimstec leaders, Sri Lanka said the sea lanes through the Bay of Bengal were being used by terrorists to smuggle arms and drugs.

"Terrorism is a major concern of Bimstec. Terrorists are using Bay of Bengal to transport arms and ammunition and drugs," Rajapaksa said. The resolution, adopted by the Bimstec nations at the end of the day-long summit,fully reflects our concern" over growing terrorism in the region, Rajapaksa said.

The Sri Lankan also underlined the need for maritime surveillance and greater cooperation among countries of the region.