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Lankan envoy apologises to Indian MPs

New Delhi: The government on Thursday summoned Sri Lanka’s envoy to India for a meeting during which he apologised to Indian MPs for his comments that sought to link those questioning Colombo’s human rights record with the Tamil Tigers.

“I would like to apologise to MPs of Tamil Nadu if I have caused any discontent or concern or distress in their minds. I feel sorry about that,” Kariyawasam told reporters here after the meeting.

The diplomat was earlier quoted by an Indian newspaper as saying that New Delhi should investigate Indian MPs sympathetic to the Tamil cause.

“That is not what I meant,” Kariyawasam clarified, adding: “What I meant say was the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) lobby groups abroad and in this region carrying on a campaign of disinformation (against Sri Lanka).”

This, he added, was aimed at disrupting the process of reconciliation in Sri Lanka following the end of the long-drawn war in 2009.

He said when he referred to “investigation”, he meant the Tamil lobby groups abroad, not Indian MPs.

Kariyawasam said the Indian foreign ministry official who met him “expressed very clearly the concerns of the Indian government” over his reported remarks.

Asked what stand he expected India to take at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on the US-sponsored resolution on “war crimes” in Sri Lanka, the envoy was cautious: “India is a responsible country.”

With Tamil Nadu parties asking the government to back the resolution, India is treading cautiously on this sensitive issue and has made it clear that it will weigh in sentiments in parliament before deciding its stand. New Delhi has stressed the need for “a forward looking outcome” that avoids “mistrust and confrontation.”

“We are engaged with all parties in an effort to achieve a forward looking outcome that is based on reconciliation and accountability rather than deepening confrontation and mistrust between the concerned parties,” External Affairs Minister SM Krishna Wednesday said while commenting on the draft resolution on Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council.

“I think stalling of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is unfortunate, we feel they are being lobbied by groups supportive of LTTE, who were and are supporting LTTE ideology. Now based in western countries, they seem to be lobbying heavily in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere as a result it appears that there is a misperception of the real ground situation in Sri Lanka,” he was quoted as saying.

Kariyawasam further stated that Tamil Nadu political leaders, for whom Sri Lanka had great respect and affinity, have been misinformed about situation in Sri Lanka.

Members of Parliament belonging to AIDMK, DMK and Left have been putting pressure on the Centre and had stalled the Parliament demanding the Centre to vote in favor of a forthcoming United Nations Human Rights Council resolution which is backed by United States and deals with alleged “war crimes” by the Sri Lankan government.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna yesterday informed Parliament that India is yet to take a stand on the US-initiated resolution on Promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka at the ongoing 19th session of the UN human rights council in Geneva.

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