Sri Lanka regrets army chief’s remarks: India

December 9th, 2008 - 8:34 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 9 (IANS) With Sri Lanka Army chief Sarath Fonseka’s derogatory remarks against Tamil Nadu politicians sparking outrage, India Tuesday said that Colombo had expressed regrets and promised to look into the issue.“Our high commissioner in Colombo took up the issue strongly with the Sri Lankan defence secretary,” external affairs ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash told reporters.

The defence secretary is Gothabaya Rajapaksa, a brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The spokesman was responding to a question on remarks by Fonseka dubbing Tamil Nadu politicians as “jokers” for seeking a ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“The defence secretary promised to look into the matter and conveyed regrets should any such comment have been made,” Prakash added.

“If the LTTE is wiped out, those political jokers like Nadumaran, Vaiko and whoever who is sympathising with the LTTE will most probably lose their income from the LTTE,” the army chief said in an interview published in The Sunday Observer in Colombo.

Fonseka also alleged the politicians were “bribed” by the LTTE to make allegations that Tamil civilians were being killed by the army in Sri Lanka.

The army chief’s comments elicited strong condemnation from political parties in Tamil Nadu which demanded that the central government extract an apology from Sri Lanka.

“Leaders criticising one another in Tamil Nadu is different but we cannot accept someone from outside the country saying such things about our leaders,” Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said in Chennai.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is likely to go to Colombo this month to reinforce India’s message that a military offensive against the Tamil Tigers should not affect Tamil civilians in that country.

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