Sri Lanka
Karunanidhi urged to help settle Sri Lankan crisis
Mar 2, 2007 - 1:50:12 PM

New Delhi, March 2 - Sri Lanka's top moderate Tamil leader and a strong critic of the Tamil Tigers Friday met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and pressed him to advocate devolution of powers to the island's provinces on the lines of Indian states so as to end the ethnic conflict.

V. Anandasangaree, head of the Tamil United Liberation Front -, called on Karunanidhi at his residence in Chennai and informed him during a 30-minute discussion that there was a ray of hope in Sri Lanka.

'But for this he needed to play a key role,' Anandasangaree told IANS. 'I told him that for the first time in 50 years the Sri Lankan government is prepared for a federal solution. Of course some people are allergic to the word federal. That is why I have been talking about 'Indian model'.

'I told the chief minister that he has to tell the central - government that Tamils in Sri Lanka will be happy with powers that vest with Indian states like Tamil Nadu. The central government will have to say that to the Sri Lankan government.'

Anandasangaree said he told the chief minister that 'we are very close to a solution' to the ethnic conflict that has claimed over 65,000 lives since 1983 and has now become one of the world's most protracted armed struggles.

Anandasangaree, who at 74 is 10 years younger to Karunanidhi and whose last meeting with the chief minister took place some three decades ago, was once an MP from the northern Sri Lankan town of Kilinochchi, which now serves as the political hub of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam -.

The TULF chief said Karunanidhi had promised to take up his request with the Indian government but urged him - to discuss the idea with India's National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, who is set to go to Chennai soon.

Anandasangaree had been trying to meet Karunanidhi ever since he took power last year in Tamil Nadu, which is separated from Sri Lanka by a narrow strip of sea and where emotions often run high on the Sri Lankan issue. The green signal came finally this week.

'I am very happy with the meeting,' Anandasangree said. 'No one can deny that without India there can be no solution to the Sri Lankan conflict and that Tamil Nadu needs to play a role too. I told Karunanidhi that it is his responsibility to persuade the central government.'

He said he also briefed the Tamil Nadu leader about the overall situation in Sri Lanka, including in areas controlled by the LTTE.

'I told him that - people are suffering. In LTTE area, the Tamils are living like slaves. They have lost their rights. There is forced recruitment of children -. People are very demoralised.'

Karunanidhi, one of India's most senior politicians, has strongly attacked the military campaign that has led to civilian casualties in Sri Lanka. At the same time he has refused to back the armed separatist conflict in the island.

In recent times, he has interacted with both Indian leaders and Sri Lankan Tamil politicians over the situation in the island. Karunanidhi has also denounced attempts to smuggle explosives from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka for the use of LTTE.

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