B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Emphasising that he would prefer India to any other country playing a role in resolution of the ethnic conflict in the island nation, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday maintained that successive governments since the Indo-Lanka 1987 Accord could not implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution on devolution of powers due to lack of national consensus.

In a 90-minute interaction with a group of journalists at the Presidential Palace, Mr. Rajapaksa was at pains to emphasise that his government did not believe in a military solution to the ethnic conflict and ultimately the “grievances” of the minorities in the island nation would have to be resolved through a political package.

At the same time, he maintained that terrorism would have to be defeated.

“There are no good or bad terrorists. We do not subscribe to the logic professed by some powers that while there is no room for any dialogue with Al-Qaeda, we must engage with LTTE which is a terrorist outfit. There are no good or bad terrorists. Terrorism is terrorism irrespective of the label and region”, Mr. Rajapaksa said.

Asked whether the APRC would submit its report as anticipated, Mr. Rajapaksa said, “I hope so. I have not been informed by the APRC chairman about possible delay in submission of the report as speculated in a section of the press.

“As soon as I receive the report I would go through it and take to the Cabinet to work out a political package acceptable to all.”

On the military front, Mr. Rajapaksa insisted that the forces were engaged in defensive operations in the north and the government has no intention of capturing territory.