India for political solution to Lanka conflict: Chidambram

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Colombo, Nov 11 (UNI) Visiting Finance Minister P Chidambaram today stressed here Sri Lanka's prolonged ethnic conflict should be resolved through political negotiations that includes a credible devolution of powers.

Mr Chidambaram, who met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse during his one-day brief visit to Sri Lanka, made these remarks while delivering the annual Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture here today on 'Growth Prospects in South Asia: Challenges and Opportunities.' India has emphasised that the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, arising out of a sense of discrimination and negation of cultural, linguistic and human rights values should be resolved through a negotiated political settlement that includes a credible devolution of powers, said Mr Chidambaram.

He reiterated India's policy that the LTTE should give up its demand for a separate state and that the Sri Lankan government should work out a credible political solution acceptable to all the communities in the country still remained unchanged.

''Simply because India is not mediating now, it does not mean that India has frozen its (foreign) policy or ignored the conflict in the region,'' pointed out the Indian Finanace Minister.

''India is concerned about the conflict in the region and continuously urges the Sri Lankan government and the leaders of the Tamil community to find a negotiated political settlement,'' added Mr Chiadambram.

Stressing the importance of having an environment of peace, stability and security for development and economic stability in Sri Lanka, Finance Minister said that India was committed to unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the island nation.

''Senseless acts of terror on the one side or planned operations by the armed forces on the other will only result in more death and destruction,'' remarked Mr Chiadambram in the presence of several ministers, military top brass and political leaders at the BMICH.

''Neither side can finally prevail over the other through conflict. Peace must be forged at the negotiating table and the peace agreement must win a vote of confidence from the people,'' he stressed.

Pointing out the happy conclusion reached in Northern Ireland after years of armed struggle, he said the continuation of armed struggle in Lanka would further deepen the divisions in the island will make a negotiated settlement more difficult.

The Indian Minister's remarks came at a time when both the leaders of Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels were making rhetoric statements to the effect of fight to finish military campaigns after the recent military developments.

Hailing the Free Trade Agreement(FTA) between the two neighbouring countries as 'a success story' Mr Chidambaram said the talks between the two sides for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) were at an advanced stage and could be finalised in the near future.

UNI

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