India says it is concerned over Tamils' plight in Sri Lanka

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New Delhi, Oct 23 (UNI) India today reiterated that it was concerned over the plight of civilians in the renewed hostilities in Sri Lanka as there could not be a military solution to the ethnic conflict there.

Noting that there were 200,000 displaced people in Sri Lanka caught in the crossfire, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the rights and the welfare of the Tamil community there should not get enmeshed in the ongoing hostilities against LTTE.

In a suo motu statement on Sri Lanka in the Rajya Sabha, the minister "there is no military solution to the ethnic conflict. What is required in Sri Lanka is a peacefully negotiated political settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka respecting the legitimate rights of the minorities, including the Tamil community." ''We encourage the government of Sri Lanka to continue to nurture the democratic process in the Eastern Province as well,'' he said.

Mr Mukherjee said India was concerned over the plight of the civilians caught in the hostilities and the growing number of internally displaced persons, and had conveyed to the Sri Lankan Government to safeguard their safety and ensure that food and essential commodities reach them unhindered.

''We have been assured that the safety and well-being of the Tamil community there would be taken care of.

''In this connection, the Member of Parliament and Senior Adviser to Sri Lankan President Basil Rajapaksa is due to visit India shortly,'' he said.

The Minister said India had also taken up with Sri Lankan the need to ensure the safety of its fishermen, and the two governments had agreed to work towards concluding practical arrangements to prevent such incidents.

''While it is important for our fishermen to respect the International Maritime Boundary Line, we have impressed on the Sri Lankan Navy to desist from firing on Indian fishermen,'' he said.

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