Pranab asks Lanka to mitigate Tamils’ plight, rules out mediation

KOLKATA : Deeply concerned over the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka, India on Friday appealed to the Rajapaksa government to respond to the Tamil civilian problem in the war zone but ruled out any mediation on the issue.

India

is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka. Continuing conflicts have been taking a heavy toll among Tamil civilians caught in the crossfire (between Sri Lankan troops and LTTE),” foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee said in a statement issued at a hurriedly-called press conference here.

Ruling out mediation in the situation, Mukherjee said “no question of mediation. We were not offered to mediate. Our policy is quite clear. The current concern is to ensure security and safety of civilians trapped in the ‘no-fire’ zone.”

Stating that India has been repeatedly expressing it concern and shock to Colombo and asking for safe passage to the civilians, he made it clear that the military action hurting the Tamil civilians was unacceptable.

“Continuation of the precipitated military action has been leading to further civilian casualties, which is totally unacceptable,” he said.

We have welcomed the announcement by Sri Lankan President Mahendra Rajapaksa on the cessation of hostilities in the last two days,” Mukherjee said.

He said while it was incumbent on the part of LTTE to release all civilians and internally displaced persons under their control, “the Sri Lankan government could not be oblivious to the human tragedy and the fate of the Tamil civilians caught up in the so-called ‘No Fire’ zone.”

India was clear that there was no reason not to continue with the pause in military action in the ‘No Fire’ zone, he said.

The minister noted that India had rushed humanitarian supplies, including medicines, food and other items for the trapped civilian population.

A 62-member emergency medical unit treated serious cases at Polomoddai. “We will soon send another consignment of 40,000 family packs in northern Sri Lanka.”

Asked to comment on Sri Lanka’s recent rejection of Norway government as its mediator, he said, “The internal problem of Sri Lanka will have to be resolved by the Sri Lankan parties and the government within the framework of that country’s constitution without affecting its territorial integrity.”

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