India ‘hopeful of positive outcome’ in Sri Lanka (Second Lead)

April 24th, 2009 - 10:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi/Colombo, April 24 (IANS) India said Friday it was hopeful of a “positive outcome” in Sri Lanka after two of its envoys met President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo and conveyed New Delhi’s concerns over the rising casualties and the plight of more than 100,000 Tamil civilians who fled the war zone this week.
National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon met Rajapaksa at his residence Temple Trees in Colombo and conveyed India’s concerns about the worsening humanitarian crisis in the island nation in the wake of the military offensive against the Tamil Tigers.

“We conveyed the concerns of the Government of India on the evolving situation in Northern Sri Lanka, especially at the casualties caused among Tamil civilians as a result of ongoing operations,” Narayanan told journalists after returning to Delhi from a day-long visit to Colombo.

“We also expressed the Government of India’s concerns about the humanitarian situation as a result of nearly hundred thousand Tamil civilians coming out of the conflict zone since early this week,” he said.

“The president of Sri Lanka was receptive to our concerns. We are hopeful of a positive outcome,” he said.

With the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka becoming an electoral issue in Tamil Nadu and a state-wide shutdown called by the DMK, a key ally of the ruling UPA coalition, over the issue, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent Menon and Narayanan as his special emissaries to convey India’s concerns.

The Sri Lankan military estimates that 106,000 Tamil civilians - men, women and children - have so far fled the LTTE zone and taken shelter in military-held areas.

The exodus of Tamil civilians from the war zone escalated into a grave humanitarian crisis even as the Sri Lankan government claimed that the Tamil Tiger rebels were about to be crushed.

In a strongly-worded statement Wednesday night, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has asked Colombo to stop all hostilities immediately and ensure that that the killings of innocent civilians are stopped.

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