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Sri Lanka looks to Manmohan for help

[Express Buzz, Wednesday, 27 April 2011 21:30 No Comment]

Sri Lanka believes that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will eventually steer his government towards the Lankan side on the UN war crimes report issue.

A top Lankan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Express that Singh had a track record of supporting Sri Lanka in its hour of need.   

It is recalled here that when the entire Western lobby was bent on introducing a scathing resolution against Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva during a crucial stage of the war against  LTTE in early 2009, it was India’s opposition which thwarted the move.

When Sri Lanka was facing a balance of payments crunch, and the IMF was dilly dallying on political grounds, it was India which persuaded the IMF to relent.

More recently, at the meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), India rescued Sri Lanka from being severely censured for illegal fishing in waters belonging to the UK. The IOTC had identified Sri Lanka as being one of the main offenders.

DOUBTS ABOUT CHINA, RUSSIA

According to the Colombo-based The Sunday Times, Sri Lanka cannot be absolutely sure of the backing of Russia and China when the war crimes report is placed before the UN Security Council (UNSC), where these two countries have the veto.

Though Russia complained that the US and its allies had overstepped the Security Council resolution on Libya, it had done nothing to stop NATO from bombing Libya.

The paper also recalled that both Russia and China had abstained from voting on the UNSC resolutions on Iran, Sudan and Libya, despite having strong economic and strategic interests in these countries.

The UNSC decision to refer the case of the Sudanese President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes had the “blessings” of Russia and China, it pointed out.

ENVOY’S ABSENCE

Intriguingly, the Chinese Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Ms Yang Xiuping, was absent at External Affairs Minister G l Peiris’ briefing for heads of missions on the UN panel’s report.

While the Chinese embassy said that there was no invitation for the event, the Lankan Ministry of External Affairs maintained that an invitation was sent by fax and e-mail, and their receipt was confirmed over the phone.

While some dismiss the incident as a case of clerical bungling, others say it may be signalling China’s evasiveness on the UN panel issue.  

This incident, coupled with Beijing’s silence on the controversial report thus far, has led to speculation about China’s stand when the matter comes before the UNSC.

[Full Coverage]

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