Allow Red Cross to evacuate civilians, India tells Sri Lanka (Lead)

March 1st, 2009 - 11:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, March 1 (IANS) India Sunday asserted that a permanent solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka lay in proper devolution of power, and not through military success.
Speaking at a seminar here, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee appealed to Colombo to use the ceasefire offer by the Tamil Tigers to allow organisations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to evacuate innocent civilians trapped in the war zone.

“The ultimate goal should not be military success, but proper devolution of power…The Sri Lankan government can go by the India-Sri Lankan Agreement of 1987 and the 13th amendment to the (Sri Lankan) constitution in this regard,” Mukherjee said at the seminar ‘Peace and Security in South East and Central Asia’.

Mukherjee made it clear that India was only concerned with the plight of civilians caught up in the trouble-torn areas. “So far as the LTTE is concerned, it is a banned terrorist organisation, and we have no sympathy for it.”

“The Sri Lankan government should use the ceasefire offer by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) to evacuate all civilians caught in the crisis. Seventy thousand or more more civilians are trapped there,” Mukherjee said.

“Colombo should allow international organisations like the ICRC to work there. The civilians suffering there should be taken to not only technically safe, but to secure, positions,” he added.

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