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Protect Tamils in LTTE-held areas, India tells Lanka

September 15, 2008 14:45 IST

Voicing concern over the plight of civilians caught in the Sri Lankan Army offensive against the Liberation Tigers of  the Tamil Eelam in rebel-held areas, India has asked Colombo to ensure their safety and security.

"We have already expressed our concern to the Lankan authorities," Defence Minister A K Antony told media-persons while replying to question on the situation in the island country.

"While taking action against the LTTE [Images], steps should also be taken to protect the civilian Tamils in Sri Lanka [Images] and ensure their safety and security," Antony said.

After Colombo scrapped a tattered 2002 ceasefire with the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam in January, the Sri Lankan Army has intensified its offensive against the Tamil Tigers and has frequently bombed rebel strongholds.

Earlier, Antony told a seminar on 'Indian experience in Force Projection' that real threats to international security would arise from states that would avoid interdependence, particularly with neighbours, and from non-state actors like the Taliban [Images] and LTTE.

"As the experience of the British in Falklands or that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance in Afghanistan demonstrate, security forces have to be ready for force projection far beyond their national boundaries to secure and maintain national as well as international peace and stability," Antony said.

Pointing out that a large number of non-state armed groups have sanctuaries in our neighbouring states, the minister said these groups used these bases and resources to carry out acts of terrorism across India. "The combination of these and other issues such as nuclear weapons proliferation compels us to be on constant vigil and preparedness to defend our vital interests and values," Antony added.

Stating that India's growing interaction with the world economy imposes its own responsibilities on its defence forces, Antony said the long-term challenge for India, as indeed for every other major nation, was its ability and willingness to contribute to international peace and stability.

"With a long and distinguished record in United Nations peace-keeping operations to our credit, India has demonstrated her commitment and willingness.Our quick response to the Asian Tsunami [Images], the Myanmar earthquake and evacuation of Indians from Lebanon and other parts of Middle East demonstrated India's ability to respond to a crisis anywhere in the world," he added.

Antony said the world's expectations from India had increased in the wake of our response to crisis across a spectrum of emergencies. "This ability will, no doubt, rise with time and with our own economic growth," he added.

Recalling India's experience in Sri Lanka and Maldives [Images] where it intervened on request from friendly governmentswithout a UN mandate, the minister said these were examples from which armed forces could learn vital lessons for building capabilities for future operations and frame doctrines for joint operations.

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