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Colombo keen on India's support at Geneva UNHRC vote

IANS  |  New Delhi 

Visiting Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Monday indicated Colombo's keenness that India extend support to it during next month's UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in Geneva during which a report on a US-sponsored "war crimes investigations" is to be filed.

Addressing the media during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here after talks, Sirisena also said that Sri Lanka is "eagerly awaiting" Modi's visit to that country in March which he said would be "an honour and a blessing".

Sirisena, who defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa in last month's presidential elections, said the friendship between the two countries will help build stronger relationship between them "not only locally but in international forums; India will support us and we'll have more understanding between the two countries; building more relations and strengthening the ties between the two countries; and we agreed to work on a mutual understanding, and it is very clear".

At the 28th session of the UNHRC, a report is to be submitted on a US-sponsored probe into alleged human rights violations by the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government between 2002 and 2011, especially during the dying years of the war against the separatist LTTE.

A resolution on Sri Lanka's "genocide against Tamils" is also likely to be tabled then.

DMK president M Karunanidhi has urged Prime Minister Modi to consider moving a "suitable" resolution against Sri Lanka at the Geneva session and asked that India should support the adoption of the report.

Sri Lanka's Tamil-majority Northern Provincial council had earlier this month passed a resolution calling for an international probe into charges of genocide against the Sri Lankan government, to which India has not reacted.

India had last year abstained from voting on the UNHRC resolution in Geneva calling for a probe into alleged war crimes by Sri Lanka. The resolution, which was adopted by the 47-member UNHRC, accepted the resolution presented by the US on behalf of countries, including Britain. It called for a probe into war crimes allegedly committed in the final stages of the war against the LTTE.

Rejecting the resolution, India had said it ignores the efforts at reconciliation being done by Sri Lanka in the predominantly Tamil north, including holding of elections.

In 2013, India had voted in favour of the US-sponsored resolution on human rights violation in Sri Lanka.

Last week, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera appealed to the UN to delay the US probe report into alleged war crimes so that the Sirisena government can carry out an internal probe as it acknowledged that such violations did take place.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh had skipped visiting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in Colombo in November 2013 following pressure by the Tamil Nadu parties over Sri Lanka's alleged human rights violations.

According to UN estimates, more than 40,000 civilians were killed in Lanka during the final phase of the fighting against the LTTE that ended in 2009. The Sri Lankan government disputes the UN figure.

Rajapaksa, who ruled from 2005 till he was ousted in last month's presidential election, is credited with ending the LTTE separatist war.

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First Published: Mon, February 16 2015. 20:56 IST