Sri Lanka conflict not on SAARC agenda

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 08 July 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Leaders of the seven South Asian countries who are expected to meet in Colombo for the South Asian Association for Regional Co- operation (SAARC) summit at the end of this month are not expected to focus on Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict, said sources close to the Indian diplomatic mission in Colombo.

It was widely expected that the island's conflict would be highlighted at the summit, as last month, the leader of AIDMK, J. Jayalalitha, along with 14 other Tamil Nadu politicians had urged the Indian Prime minister to intervene to stop the "genocide" of the Tamil people and to stop Sri Lanka's military operations in the Tamil areas.

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister, J. Jayalalitha's AIDMK party is a crucial ally of the central government of India. However, the AIDMK's pressure on the central government is said to have eased recently and India is not expected to press the issue during the summit, said the sources.

kadirgamar_lakshman-p.gifMeanwhile, the SAARC summit is expected to focus its attention on renewed tension in the region following the nuclear tests carried out by India and Pakistan.

Sri Lankan Foreign minister, Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, who visited Pakistan to invite Prime Minister Nawar Sheriff to the summit has asked the Pakistani leader for his participation in reducing the tension.

Meanwhile, Tamil political parties and other political groups have urged the Indian diplomatic mission in Colombo that time should be allocated to discuss the ethnic conflict during the summit.

However, political observers in Colombo said that they do not expect the issue would be discussed during the summit, but that it would feature in private discussions among the leaders of the attending nations.

The SAARC member nations are India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Pakistan. The summit is to be held from July 29 to 31.

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