Thursday, January 7, 2010

Last ditch Indian bid to stop war revealed

Had President Mahinda Rajapaksa given in to Indian and joint British-French pressure to halt a combined security forces offensive directed at the LTTE, last April, the terrorist leadership would have survived to fight another day.


Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga revealed that the President had politely explained to both parties that the LTTE could not be given a lifeline again.

Responding to The Island queries, Weeratunga said that Indian delegation comprising Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, Indian National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan and the then Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Alok Prasad had sought an immediate end to the final assault on the LTTE when they called on the President on April 24. Weeratunga said that the government of India had been concerned about the crisis the Vanni battle could cause, particularly in Tamil Nadu, though the President firmly asserted that Sri Lankan forces could not miss an opportunity to finish off the LTTE.

But the President had assured that everything possible would be done to protect the civilians, the Presidential Secretary said adding that the Sri Lankan leader had gone to the extent of calling an end to the use of heavy weapons on the last LTTE stronghold.

According to him, the President had taken a similar stand when British and French Foreign Secretaries called on him on April 29 as the ground assault was reaching the final stage. The President had said that Sri Lanka could not be forced to call off the offensive at the eleventh hour.

Weeratunga said that any other Sri Lankan leader would have succumbed to international pressure and called off the offensive. Had that happened, the country would not have achieved an outright military victory over the LTTE.

The Army wiped out the LTTE leadership on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon on May 19.

Weeratunga said that the President had enjoyed the backing of the people right throughout the military onslaught in the face of resistance from some quarters. Now, the same group was trying to thwart the President’s re-election bid even though the LTTE could not pose a military threat, Weeratunge said.

Recalling the TNA declaration that the LTTE was the sole representative of the Tamil speaking people ahead of the last parliamentary polls in April 2004, Weeratunga said that the TNA before throwing its weight behind Fonseka had held discussions with the ruling coalition. He emphasised that whatever the consequences, the President would not take any decision to jeopardise national security.

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