Friday, April 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Ban on LTTE to stay
PM rules out involvement in peace talks

New Delhi, April 11
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today rejected LTTE’s plea to lift the ban on the outfit and ruled out India’s involvement in the Norwegian-brokered peace talks between the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE.

The Congress on Thursday pressed for the extradition of LTTE supremo V. Prabhakaran and got support from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, even as the MDMK, an NDA constituent, demanded that the ban imposed on the rebel group be lifted.
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In his first reaction to LTTE supremo V. Prabhakaran’s demand that India play a role in the peace process, Mr Vajpayee said: “We are not going to be part of any negotiations or interfere in any talks between the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE.”

Shortly after his arrival at Delhi airport from his five-day visit to Singapore and Cambodia, Mr Vajpayee made it clear that his government had no intention to lift the 11-year-old ban on the LTTE, a demand made by Prabhakaran yesterday while seeking to have constructive and friendly relations with India.

Mr Vajpayee, however, said the government could “sympathetically” consider the request to extend medical help to the ailing LTTE spokesperson Anton Balasingham.

The Prime Minister told reporters on board his special aircraft while returning home that “in front of us there is only one proposal and that is for providing medical treatment to ailing Balasingham in the country”.

To a question on the demand by some NDA allies on the change in leadership in Gujarat, Mr Vajpayee said the issue will be discussed at BJP’s National Executive meeting beginning in Goa tomorrow.

“Goa Mein Vichar Hoga” (it will be discussed in Goa), he said.

He also parried questions on a possible tie-up between the BJP and the Bahujan Samaj Party in government formation in Uttar Pradesh.

Mr Vajpayee described his visits to Singapore and Cambodia as “fruitful and rewarding” as it had strengthened India’s multi-faceted links with the two nations and further promoted New Delhi’s dialogue within the ASEAN.

“Both in Singapore and Cambodia we discussed India-ASEAN relations with special focus on the coming summit meeting in November. We will continue to remain in touch with both countries in our effort to develop a detailed agenda for the summit,” he said.

The Prime Minister was received at the airport by several Cabinet ministers, including Home Minisyer L.K. Advani, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Mr Vajpayee said the leadership in Singapore had clearly expressed the desire to intensify bilateral interactions and to accelerate progress on the various ongoing streams of cooperation.

“The overwhelming response to the India-Singapore forum and our significant initiatives on the economic cooperation agreement, the biotechnology park and commercialisation of R and D testify to the vibrancy of India-Singapore relationship.”

The Prime Minister said India and Cambodia had agreed on a number of important cooperation ventures which provide the framework for imparting a dynamic orientation to the traditional India-Cambodia relations, making them more relevant to the contemporary post-cold war era.

Mr Vajpayee said he was very happy with his visit to Cambodia. “It is extraordinary that for nearly half a century, an Indian Prime Minister has not visited this country with which we have such deep cultural affinities.”

He said he had the personal satisfaction to see the spectacular Angkor Vat complex. “We can be proud of India’s sterling role in the restoration of Angkor Vat. It is our privilege to participate in the restoration of the magnificent Ta Prohm temple. PTI, UNI

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