Friday, June 9, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No rift in NDA on Lanka: DMK

NEW DELHI, June 8 (UNI) — The DMK leader, Mr Murasoli Maran, today asserted that there were no differences within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on the Sri Lankan situation, stating that his party was “one with the government stand.’’

Talking to newsmen after attending a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), to which he had been called as a special invitee following the reported controversial statement of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, Mr Maran said the confusion was created by a section of the Press by taking a portion of the statement and blowing it out of proportion.

Mr Karunanidhi had stated that the ethnic problem could be solved through proper sharing of power with the Sri Lankan Tamils. This could be done in some ways. “It may be quasi-federal, federal, confederal or it may be partition. They (Sri Lanka) should adopt one of this kind.’’ But some people got the “last portion, that is partition, and blew it out of proportion,’’ Mr Maran clarified.

Briefing newsmen on the CCS meeting, the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, said India’s positions and policies remained what it had been on working towards and maintaining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.

The CCS meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and attended by Mr Jaswant Singh, Mr Maran, the Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, and the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, lasted about an hour during which the situation in Sierra Leone and Fiji were also discussed.

Mr Jaswant Singh said there was no change in India’s stand that “the aspirations of all the people of Sri Lanka should be met”, maintaining the island nation’s integrity and sovereignty.

“We deplore and continue to deplore all terrorist actions,’’ he said.

The CCS took note of the situation in the northern territory, particularly in the light of the assassination of Industry Minister C.V. Goonaratne.

He said Mr Maran was asked to come to “set at rest any doubts on any differences in the ruling coalition’’ in the light of the reported statement of Mr Karunanidhi. “There are no differences.’’

Mr Maran said the government wanted a peaceful, lasting solution to the Sri Lankan problem. “We don’t want bloodshed at our doorstep.’’

He said the “NDA government is not fragile. It is like the rock of Gibralter.’’

On Sierra Leone, Mr Jawant Singh denied reports that about 300 to 400 Indian troops had been surrounded by rebel forces. Only two officers, one JCO and 20 others of the Gorkha Rifles were “in an isolated position.’’

“There is no danger to their lives.’’ The Indian troops had full rations and were fully equipped.


Fighting no solution to Lanka problem: PM

NEW DELHI, June 8 (UNI) — Reiterating that the creation of a separate Tamil Eelam is not the answer to the present crisis in Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, has said the solution has to be found by the Sri Lankan Government within its geographical boundaries.

Mr Vajpayee said that while the Sri Lankan Government was in favour of decentralisation, the question of how far it could go in this regard was a decision to be taken by Colombo keeping the island’s territorial integrity in view.

In his first television interview since he assumed the office of Prime Minister for the third time, Mr Vajpayee told “Aajtak” on Doordarshan that the present fighting or Jaffna passing from the hands of the army to the LTTE or vice-versa was no solution to the current problem.

Answering a question about Kashmir, he said the government was prepared to talk to Hurriyat leaders released recently. He said, “We are prepared to talk to our own people, but without any interference from Pakistan”. He said it was unfortunate that many leaders of organisations here turned for help to Pakistan, despite the fact that any solution lay within India. Pakistan, he said, was the main hurdle in resolving the Kashmir tangle.

Mr Vajpayee said the situation had improved for the better and even the released Hurriyat leaders were now free to assess this for themselves. But it was clear that Pakistan did not want that there should be any solutions to the Kashmir issue. Kashmir already had a lot of autonomy under the Indian union and this was not the main issue there.

It was important for the leaders of the different organisations operating in Kashmir to realise what was good for the people there and to get out of communal modes to find solutions, he said.

Referring to his holiday in Manali, Mr Vajpayee said it had given him the opportunity to reflect over the various problems vexing the nation, including the direction the republic was taking.

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