Sri Lanka
No differences with India over LTTE: Sri Lanka
Apr 2, 2007 - 8:23:45 PM

New Delhi, April 2 - Sri Lanka Tuesday announced that a devolution package for Tamil speaking areas would be announced in the next eight weeks to move towards a negotiated settlement of the ethnic conflict.

'We will make the LTTE - stakeholders in a negotiated settlement,' Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told journalists a day before the start of the 14th SAARC Summit.

The ruling Sri Lanka Freedom party - had discussed and approved such a package, he said, after a meeting with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee.

Bogollagama and Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohna stressed that that there were no differences with India on dealing with the LTTE and that coordination between the two countries was satisfactory.

The minister disagreed with a questioner that Colombo wanted a military solution while New Delhi favoured a political one. 'It was a combination of both and India has supported the Sri Lankan endeavour.'

He said the two-day summit of eight South Asian countries would be the platform where Sri Lanka would aim to place terrorism high on the agenda since 'the entire region is affected by it'.

Bogollagama denied that the Sri Lankan Navy had fired at Tamil Nadu fishermen in the sea dividing the two countries.

He said the Sri Lankan Navy was not even present in the area where the firing took place, suggesting obliquely that LTTE guerrillas may have been responsible. At the same time, he said efforts would be made to ensure that such an incident did not recur.

The firing on Indian fishermen, which has angered the fishing community in Tamil Nadu, figured during talks Bogollagama had with Mukherjee.

Sri Lanka has proposed joint naval patrolling to prevent such incidents. But Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said the issue was 'under discussion' and no final word had been reached.

Asked about military cooperation among SAARC nations to fight terrorism, Bogollagama said there were already multilateral mechanisms in place and there was need to activate them. 'What has been done is not enough.'

On March 26, the LTTE carried out an air strike on Sri Lanka's main air force base near Colombo, killing at least three air force personnel. It was the first time any insurgent group in the world had used aircraft.

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