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Be largehearted, Indian army chief to Sinhalese

[Express Buzz, Monday, 6 September 2010 08:41 No Comment]

The visiting Indian army chief General Vijay Kumar Singh has asked the Sinhalese, the majority community in Sri Lanka, to be largehearted towards the minority Tamils and help them quickly re-build their war-shattered lives.

In an interview to The Sunday Island, Gen Singh said, “All Sri Lankans should move on by burying the bitterness and antagonism that existed all these years because of the civil war.” The Indian General said that during his five-day tour, he would not only strengthen bilateral defence cooperation but also “see how things are shaping up in the northern and eastern provinces.

Asked specifically what kind of defence cooperation he envisaged in the post-Eelam War scenario, Gen Singh said that it was for the political leaderships of the two countries to decide what it should be. Interestingly, Gen Singh was part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) which was in Sri Lanka to implement the 1987 India-Sri Lanka Accord between July 1987 and March 1990.

On Monday, Gen Singh will place a wreath at the monument for the IPKF in Sri Jayawardenepura, adjacent to Parliament. The monument has names of the 1,165 Indian personnel killed in the operations, inscribed on it.

The Indian Army chief ’s five-member delegation includes Maj Gen Harminderjit Singh Sachdev, General Officer Commanding an Infantry Division. Gen Singh is scheduled to meet Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister D M Jayaratne, Minister of External Affairs G L Peiris, Secretary of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Air Force, the Commander of the Army and Commander of the Navy, among others.

Gen Singh will visit the Security Forces Headquarters of the Wanni in Vavuniya and see Indian de-miners at work in Omanthai. In Trincomalee, he would see the Indian-run oil tanks and the Sri Lankan naval dockyard. He will then visit the Sri Lanka Military Academy (SLMA) at Diyatalawa.

[Full Coverage]

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