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Rajapaksa promises political solution to ethnic conflict

May 23, 2009 01:54 IST
President Mahinda Rajapaksa promised on Friday to seek a political solution to address the ethnic conflict in a post-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Sri Lanka, even as a top UN official pressed Colombo to begin process of national reconciliation by accommodating "legitimate" grievances of Tamils.
     
In a message to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rajapaksa renewed his promise to work towards a political
solution for addressing the grievances of the country's ethnic Tamil minority who share close ties with India.
     
Indian envoys, M K Narayanan and Shiv Shankar Menon had yesterday met Rajapaksa and sought political solution of
the conflict after the military defeat of the LTTE.
     
Ahead of UN chief Ban Ki Moon's visit to Colombo, his top aide Vijay Nambiar said: "The process of national reconciliation, we feel, must be all-inclusive so that it can fully address legitimate aspirations of Tamils as well as other minorities".
     
Ban, who is scheduled to arrive in Colombo on friday night will discuss the condition of nearly 300,000 ethnic Tamil civilians displaced by the war and ask Colombo to check ethnic  divisions, said his chief of staff Nambiar. Later in the day, Rajapaksa dismissed attempts to haul him for international war crime charges and said he was even ready "to go to the gallows" for defeating the Tamil rebels.
     
He said unnamed foreign elements were trying to sabotage the government's military campaign which ended successfully
earlier this week with the complete defeat of the guerrillas.
     
"There are some who tried to stop our military campaign by threatening to haul us before war crimes tribunals," Rajapakse said before a huge crowd at a public park in front of the national parliament.
     
Earlier this month, the UK told Sri Lanka that it may face a potential war crimes probe over deaths of civilians in the conflict.
     
Rajapaksa, who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said the Tamil Tigers had been completely defeated and
had no possibility to resume their violent campaign for a separate state.
     
Congratulating Singh for his re-election to India's top office, Rajapaksa said: "India's role in successfully and resolutely confronting the scourge of terrorism, one of the greatest challenges of our contemporary era, has been a source
of strength to us".
     
Before his departure to Sri Lanka Ban said he was pained by "the plight of people trapped by fighting and living in terror and grave hardship." He is slated to meet Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama on his visit.
     
Nambiar told reporters here that the UN chief would tour the Manik Farm area in northern district of Vavuniya, where
most of the people displaced by recent fighting are housed.

"It is important that victory becomes a victory for all Sri Lankans," he said, adding, the Lankan government now needs
to hold talks with Tamil leaders to address their genuine demands.
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