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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sri Lanka ‘mindful of Indian concerns,’ invites Pranab

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a telephonic conversation on Saturday that security forces were engaged in an “operation to disarm the LTTE and restore democracy, peace and stability to the region.”

A statement by the Foreign Ministry here said Mr. Rajapaksa briefed Dr. Singh on the situation in the north of the island country and reiterated that the security forces were under “strict instructions to avoid causing any civilian casualties, during this operation.”

“He also informed Dr. Singh that Sri Lanka is mindful and appreciative of the concerns of India regarding the situation in the North, and aware of the context in which these matters have been raised.

“Consequent to this discussion, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has invited the Indian Minister of External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee to undertake a visit to Sri Lanka at an early date. Both leaders agreed to maintain a dialogue at a high political level, in keeping with the longstanding and excellent bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka,” it said.

On Friday, High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Alok Prasad called on Mr. Bogollagama and conveyed the Indian concerns articulated in the October 6 demarche served on Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner by the National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, remarks made by Dr. Singh on the current situation in the island and the statement issued by Mr. Mukherjee in New Delhi on Thursday.

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