Thursday, May 4, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India rules out intervention
35,000 Lankan troops trapped
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, May 3 — India today ruled out military intervention in Sri Lanka and offered to extend “humanitarian assistance”.

Talking to newspersons after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security held at 7 Race Course Road, the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, said the Government of India would be guided in its response by its continued commitment to a peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict within the framework of a united Sri Lanka where all communities can realise their aspirations.

Mr Singh said India would provide humanitarian assistance whenever needed in consultation with the Sri Lankan government.

“No formal request has come for assistance so far as the situation in Jaffna peninsula is concerned”, Mr Singh said when asked whether the Sri Lanka Foreign Minister, Mr Laxman Kadirgamar had asked for assistance when he met the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Asked whether India would provide assistance for evacuating Sri Lankan troops from the northern peninsula, Mr Singh said “evacuation of troops is not India’s responsibility... it is purely a hypothetical situation you are talking about. It is for Sri Lanka to arrive at a decision.”

According to reports up to 40,000 Lankan soldiers could be trapped by the sudden LTTE advance in the Jaffna peninsula.

When asked whether India would extend the ban on the LTTE, Mr Singh said “all these aspects will be taken into account and action taken”.

COLOMBO (PTI): President Chandrika Kumartunga today confirmed reports that she has sought help from “friendly countries” to contain the LTTE’s advance into the peninsula but at the same time ruled out deployment of foreign troops to accomplish it.

In her address to the Members of Parliament of the ruling People’s alliance (PA) here, the President also ruled out withdrawal of troops from the peninsula despite the reversals and told the legislators that security forces would resist all attempts by the LTTE to capture the peninsula, sources in the alliance said.

The Sri Lankan President’s assertion that she sought foreign help and also her decision not to pull out the troops from Jaffna ends speculation over the issue related to evacuation over 35,000 troops holed up in Jaffna.

The sources said that Chandrika sounded categorical in her assertion that troops would fight against the return of the LTTE. Already the army has lost hold on several key military garrison and the reports from the north said that the rebels have mounted heavy attacks on yet another army stronghold at Kilaly, a small town on the banks of Jaffna lagoon.

The reports also said that the LTTE seized control of a coastal area that runs across the banks of Jaffna lagoon.

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has invited Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi for discussion on the latest situation in Sri Lanka.

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