'Lanka owes India a deep debt of gratitude'
says Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Kadirgamar
Times of India, 3 March 2001
COLOMBO: Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar said on Friday that Sri Lanka
owed India a "deep debt of gratitude" for persuading
Britain to include the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in its
list of banned terrorist organisations.
"We owe a deep debt of gratitude to India. Unsolicited by us, Jaswant Singh
(External Affairs Minister) made representations to the British government
for the banning of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)," Kadirgamar
said, two days after the British government's announcement of its new
Kadirgamar said he had taken up the matter with his Indian counterpart, but
Singh had told him that New Delhi had already lobbied London. "That is a
particularly friendly gesture by India," he said.
The foreign minister said he "saluted" Britain for imposing the ban, but
denied state media reports that he was going to London over the weekend to
personally convey Sri Lanka's gratitude.
"There is no truth in that. There is no question of one sovereign state
thanking another. But I salute the British government for their action
despite the pressures of a democratic society."
He said the British government had not given Sri Lanka a gift or done them
a favor, but "all the governments of the world will applaud what Britain has
done. They have done the right thing fairly and squarely."
Analysts and media in Colombo claimed the British ban was a major
diplomatic victory for the government, which had feverishly lobbied to have
the LTTE included in the list of "international terrorist organizations"
released by London on February 28.
However, Kadirgamar cautioned both the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil
minority communities against giving in to gloating or despair.
"I say to the Sinhala people of the country, please do not treat it as
matter of glory, exultation or triumph. And to the Tamil people, I say,
don't treat this as a blow against the Tamil people. The British government
is not aiming any blow at any particular group of people," he said.
The government will, however, step up its campaign to have the
LTTE banned in other countries, including Norway which is trying to prod
the separatists and Colombo to thrash out apolitical settlement to the
decades long ethnic conflict.
France, Germany, Canada and Australia were among the countries considering
anti-terrorism legislation and Colombo will lobby the governments of these
countries to proscribe the Tigers, he said.