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Fight against LTTE was no 'ethnic war', military action was not targeted at Tamils: Rajapaksa

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Former Sri Lankan said Wednesday the fight against the that ended in 2009 cannot be dubbed an "ethnic war", asserting that the military action was not directed against the Tamil community.

Rajapaksa, who was at the helm when the nearly three-decade-long civil war in ended in 2009 with the defeat of the (LTTE) by the military, said India's "abiding friendship" was amply demonstrated by its rapid response to Sri Lanka's needs at the time, both material and moral.

"While this was of vital assistance to us, I remained unshaken in my conviction that foreign armies could not successfully banish terrorism from our soil, because the broad mass of popular opinion would not support this," he said in his address at a symposium, titled 'Indo-Relations: The Way Forward', organised by the Virat Hindustan Sangam led by here.

The former Sri Lankan said he was, however, mindful of India's special concerns at the time, arising principally from the proximity of and other relevant circumstances.

"Our policy in this regard was constant consultation with and other neighbouring countries. For this purpose, we had evolved the TROIKA mechanism involving key officials on both sides, who were in touch with one another at all times," Rajapaksa, who was accompanied by his former Namal at the event, said.

He proposed that a similar mechanism could be set up by and to resolve economic and social issues.

Talking about the last phase of the civil war, which started with his government ordering military action against the LTTE, he said the move was not the first resort, but the last one.

"We did not at any time wage an ethnic war. The military action was certainly not directed against the Tamil community. It must not be forgotten that the reach of this terrorist organisation was not confined to Sri Lanka, but extended to Indian soil where they assassinated (former prime minister) and many others," said.

He asserted that the eradication of terrorism was not for the sole benefit of one community, or for one country.

Rajapaksa recalled that during the final phase of the war, the foreign secretary of the UK and the of had called for discontinuation of hostilities, but he had replied that acceding to their demands would be nothing short of "betrayal" of coming generations.

Rajapaksa also slammed the current Sri Lankan dispensation led by Maithripala Sirisena, saying that it undermined the sovereignty of his country by co-sponsoring a resolution at the calling for "internal supervision" of processes that are exclusively the domain of

The former Sri Lankan president said a crucial feature of his vision was "abiding" friendship with and asserted that a complete understanding between the two countries would be "one of the pillars of our foreign policy".

Swamy, in his remarks, said it was widely believed that Rajapaksa is the frontrunner for the next government in Sri Lanka which would come to power after polls next year.

Rajapaksa took decisive action against terrorism and cleaned up the country, Swamy said, adding that Sri Lanka had now become a favoured destination of international investment.

"I look as I know that our is not easily shackled by past views and views expressed by intellectuals or anyone. He makes his own mind...there is a definite indication that we will give top priority to improving relations as soon as the matters in both countries politically get settled," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, September 12 2018. 21:35 IST