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Lanka Kept India Updated on War Against LTTE – outlookindia

[MISC, Sunday, 7 June 2009 16:41 No Comment]

India was kept updated about the situation in Sri Lanka’s north "from day one" of the security forces’ final assault against the Tiger rebels till the eventual defeat of the LTTE, the powerful Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has revealed.

"From the very beginning, from day one, we kept India very well briefed and we prevented any suspicion being created whether it was because of our relationship with China or Pakistan or anybody else," said Rajapaksa, who played a major role in the victory against the LTTE.

"We created a mechanism with India, away from the contacts of the Foreign Ministry, for us to develop a close relationship mechanism between the officials," he said in an interview to the Sunday Times newspaper.

From India, the "trio" comprising Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh were part of the mechanism, he said.

"On our part we had President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, (President’s Special Adviser) Basil Rajapaksa and myself. We developed two teams and we were exchanging views and meetings," the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary said.

Rajapaksa, the brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said the Sri Lankan team visited India many times to discuss the issues that were coming up.

"Tamil Nadu was putting pressure. We understood that and did certain things that helped them (India)," Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said.

"Throughout these years (of LTTE war) we developed this friendship and worked very closely," he said, adding, "whatever other pressures there were, we knew that these friendships will help us overcome that."

He said Sri Lanka knew that India’s concerns were not for the LTTE and that they wanted the rebels to be defeated. "But their concern was for the Tamil population here."

"We did many things to prevent civilian casualties and they (India) were very appreciative of the decisions taken in the later stages such as the one to stop the use of heavy weapons," Rajapaksa told the newspaper.

He said when the Sri Lankan security forces advanced to the later stages of the war, they tasted many military successes, giving them confidence about winning the battle against the Tiger rebels.

"I was so sure we would finish this so I did not want to give any chance for any force to rob these victories from us, so I was very blunt with them and was not going to give in at all," Rajapaksa said about the LTTE, which came up with suggestions of conditional ceasefires.

"I was not ready to give in at any stage to anything or anybody. I knew that it was the President’s position as well. We knew exactly what to do," Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said.

The top Sri Lankan defence official also said that the decision to stop the air strikes during the war was not linked to the Indian elections.

"No, not the Indian elections. (Setting up of) the No Fire Zone and the decision to stop air attacks and use of heavy weapons was a self imposed decision to prevent civilians casualties.

[Full Coverage]

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