Special Correspondent

"We believe that only talks can lead to a lasting solution"

COIMBATORE: India should play a "moral, political and diplomatic role" in finding a solution, through talks, to the Sri Lankan crisis, Central Committee member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) N. Sankaraiah said on Monday.

India should have an independent foreign policy and hold discussions with the Sri Lankan Government to ensure peaceful co-existence of the Sinhalese and Tamils and "equal rights for both languages," he told reporters here.

He did not mention what role India could play.

Mr. Sankaraiah cautioned that the ceasefire between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam should not end.

Norwegian efforts

About the Norwegian efforts to find a negotiated settlement, he said: "We believe that only talks can lead to a lasting solution. There is no point in extremism or repression."

Asked whether India needed to do what Norway had taken up, he said: "That was what India tried once." But he did not mean it when he said India had to play an important role.

Mr. Sankaraiah said India, too was a nation of diverse castes, religions, cultures and languages, yet it remained united. Sri Lanka had only two ethnic groups: Sinhalese and Tamils. So finding a solution should not be difficult.

Manifesto

The party State unit would release its manifesto for the Assembly elections at a conference on February 18 in Madurai. It would list the reasons for the need to defeat the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). "A change is necessary," he said and referred to the dismissal of government employees and the removal of Opposition members from the Assembly to drive home his point. "To achieve this objective, we will cooperate with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam," he added.

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