Rajapaksa did not succumb to int`l pressure in 2009: Lanka Minister

Rajapaksa did not succumb to int`l pressure in 2009: Lanka Minister

Colombo: President Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to succumb to pressures exerted by some countries to end the military campaign against the LTTE in 2009, a top Sri Lankan minister has said.

Government spokesman and Minister of Information Keheliya Rambukwella said some countries had put pressure on Sri Lanka when the war was reaching a decisive stage in 2009.

“Some countries sent advance teams and even were ready to send ships. But the President (Rajapaksa) refused to give in,” he said at a gathering in the central district of Kandy yesterday.

Rambukwella’s reference to the international pressure was apparently aimed at the visit of the then British Foreign Minister David Miliband and his then French counterpart Bernard Kouchner to meet Rajapaksa in 2009.

Rambukwella said the international pressure during the 2009 conflict was much more serious than the Indian government intervention in 1987, when the Sri Lankan troops were closing in on the hideout of the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran. “This time there were more than dhal drops,” he said referring to the Indian Air Force’s air dropping of rations to the northern Sri Lanka citizens during the 1987 military offensive against the now banned LTTE.

India believed Sri Lanka was willfully starving the population in the north as a military tactic hence decided to airdrop supplies. Sri Lanka has, since the end of the war five years ago, faced three consecutive UN Human Rights Council resolutions calling for urgent reconciliation measures for the Tamil minority. The US-backed resolutions were supported by leading Western nations. Japan along with India were two of the 12 countries which abstained during the vote in March in Geneva.

Rambukwella said Sri Lanka had taken steps to achieve reconciliation with the Tamil minority and the government has set in a programme to engage those who have a negative image of the country.

PTI

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