‘Sri Lanka ignoring India’s advice’

A day ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s crucial round of talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, Indian officials are irked by what they term the Sri Lankan government’s “intransigent” attitude towards the country’s ethnic problem. Having urged Colombo to come up with a concrete devolution formula and outline a specific roadmap to grant maximum autonomy to the ethnic Tamil minority in the north and east of Sri Lanka, New Delhi is finding its advice increasingly ignored.

India has been telling everyone who will listen that both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE need to get back to the table. It was not only important to maintain the ceasefire (in place since February 2002 and now all but abandoned), but also to seek a just and federal solution within the framework of a united Sri Lanka, former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said. LTTE chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran’s statement on Monday, seeking independence from Colombo, has not helped matters, officials said. But, according to a former Indian envoy to Sri Lanka, ever since the Rajapakse government came to power a year ago, the path they have chosen has been “one of confrontation with LTTE,” not conciliation with the ethnic minority.

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