Legitimate aspirations of Lankan Tamils should be addressed: Pranab (Lead)

May 20th, 2009 - 12:11 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) India is concerned about the Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka and wants that their “legitimate aspirations” should be addressed, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Tuesday.
Mukherjee said he had held several rounds of talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue. He also said that Rajapaksa had confirmed to him about the killing of Tamil Tigers chief V. Prabhakaran.

“We are concerned about the civilians. Their legitimate aspirations must be reflected in the constitution…,” he told NDTV in an interview.

“We shall have to see how they are rehabilitated, and so far as that is concerned we shall go the whole hog to provide that,” he said, adding that India is working on a package of Rs.500 crore for the rehabilitation.

“We want a political solution (to the ethnic conflict), we have been saying so from day one,” the minister said.

“Military solution is not the solution, political solution is the one,” he said. “This is the time to implement the political solution signed during Rajiv Gandhi’s time (devolution of powers to the north and east).”

Asked what he thought about India being termed as a “big brother”, he said “Sometimes, unfortunately we are viewed as that”, but added, “We have never interfered in the internal matters of any country.”

“But it is not possible for any country (to remain silent) when an ethnic group is being subjected to persecution”.

“We have a special responsibility to maintain human dignity and protect human rights.”

He said Sri Lanka should hold elections in the Tamil majority north and east, there should be devolution of autonomy, and the government should try and win over the civilians.

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