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Last Updated: May 19, 2007 - 1:28:39 PM
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India concerned over escalating violence in Sri Lanka
Mar 28, 2007 - 8:28:29 PM
'We know this - will be one of the issues, and it will be one of the big issues at the SAARC summit,' Menon said.

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[RxPG] New Delhi, March 28 - Pressing for a negotiated solution to the ethnic conflict, India Wednesday expressed its concern over rising violence in Sri Lanka but stopped short of condemning the spectacular air strike by Tamil Tiger guerrillas on a military airfield in the island's capital.

Reacting to the air bombing by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - two days ago, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said here: 'We are very concerned at the escalation of violence in Sri Lanka. We have made this clear to everyone.'

'Air strike is just one example of this violence,' he added.

Two LTTE light aircraft flew from Tiger-held territory in the country's north towards capital Colombo and dropped bombs at an air base at the Katunayake international airport and then flew back, covering around 500 km at night. It was the first time any insurgent group in the world had used planes.

Sri Lanka has described the LTTE air raid as a threat to the world, including to countries in South Asia.

New Delhi would be talking to all concerned in Sri Lanka over the next week or so in this regard, Menon said, adding it was time for all parties in Sri Lanka to come to the negotiating table to end the 'humanitarian tragedy'.

'The main issue is to get a solution to the conflict. Picking an individual incident of violence does not help us to address the root cause of problem. The root cause of problem is the conflict, which is escalating,' Menon said.

He underlined humanitarian consequences of the violence, like internal displacement of over 100,000 people and added this was a worrying development. Nearly 20,000 people have also sailed to India.

'We join our voice with all those in Sri Lanka and abroad who hope violence comes to an end soon,' he stressed.

'We encourage Sri Lankans to find a solution to the crisis themselves,' he said, when asked if India would consider a more pro-active involvement to help find a solution to the ethnic conflict.

Menon rebutted reports that insinuated that India-made radars failed to detect the LTTE aircraft flying from Wanni region to Colombo.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse is to raise the issue of growing terrorism in his country at the forthcoming SAARC summit that begins here April 3.

'We know this - will be one of the issues, and it will be one of the big issues at the SAARC summit,' Menon said.

Sri Lanka has pressed for a revision of the 1987 SAARC convention on suppression of terrorism and updating it in the light of new developments.

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