Hillary, Menon discuss Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 10 March 2009, 19:26 GMT]
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon met for 45 minutes in Washington, Monday. “A discussion of one regional issue, in particular, was Sri Lanka -- the importance of trying to find a way to make sure that whatever happens in the armed conflict, that there is a political settlement in the future that both the US and India can help create, and participate in", reports Rediff News Tuesday, citing Administrative sources in Washington.

Explaining why the Sri Lanka crisis took center-stage during the discussion on regional issues, the source according to Rediff News said, "The Secretary is very concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and there is a sense that maybe there are things we (the US and India) can do together."

Menon, according to the sources, 'was quite positive', in terms of concurrence with the concerns expressed by Clinton, although there was 'nothing specified' in terms on how this situation could be alleviated, but broadly "the idea that this is an area where we both have capabilities and interests and we'd like to be helpful."

The US government will sound India Monday, seeking support to evacuate nearly 200,000 Tamil civilians from LTTE controlled territory, read a news story appeared in Kolkata-based The Telegraph on Sunday.

The plan is to send a marine expeditionary brigade attached to the US Pacific Command (PACOM) to go into Sri Lanka with the support of the US navy and air force, the news reported by K.P. Nayar in The Telegraph said.

Meanwhile, an Indian medical team arrived on Monday in Sri Lanka to open an emergency medical unit for treating IDPs at Pulmoaddai, a coastal place known for ilmanite deposits at the border of Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Colombo was negative on the possibilities of permitting any foreign country in the evacuation of civilians.

Sri Lanka's Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said that the Government has not permitted any international forces to evacuate civilians from the Vanni, and Government has not made any request to the US Army to support the evacuation process in Sri Lanka, according to Daily News citing the minister on Tuesday.

"Certain reports published regarding the arrival of US marines in Sri Lanka to transport civilians on the invitation of the Sri Lankan Government are baseless and incorrect."

"We have also not received any proposal from any country in this regard,"

"We welcome proposals from any country or foreign agency if they are not concerned in safeguarding the terrorists”, the Sri Lankan minister was quoted saying.

"Since the Armed Forces are engaged in fulfilling their duties in eliminating terrorism in the North, the Government has committed to streamline the evacuation process of civilians without harming them," the Daily News said.



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