India says Sri Lanka is not an enemy

Speaking in the Indian Rajya Sabha today, Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Sri Lanka should not be called an “enemy country.” The minister’s remarks came after AIADMK leaders urged the government to change its Sri Lanka policy and branded Colombo as an “enemy” of the Tamils, NDTV reported

“We may have anguish, we may have anger but we should not be saying Sri Lanka is an enemy country,” the minister said adding that he respects “the concern that is being expressed by my friends from Tamil Nadu and want to say this is not your concern alone.”

Mr Khurshid was reacting to remarks made by AIADMK leader V Maitreyan who said, “It is time the Lanka-centric approach of the external affairs ministry is changed to a Tamil welfare-centric approach. As far as we Tamils are concerned, Sri Lanka is an enemy country, and it will remain so until justice is meted out to the Tamils.”

Expressing disappointment over Khurshid’s reply, the AIADMK, the DMK and the Left walked out of the Rajya Sabha.

Earlier in the day, Rajya Sabha DMK leader Tiruchi Siva had threatened the government by asking it to decide whether it wanted to maintain friendly relations with Sri Lanka or with its “brethren in Southern India”. The DMK is a senior member of the ruling coalition.

“Whether you want to have friendly relations with Sri Lanka or with your brethren in the South, decide yourself,” Mr Siva said.

The DMK wants India to vote once again against Sri Lanka at the UNHCR session, where the US plans to move a new resolution against the island for alleged war atrocities.

At last year’s session of the UN’s top human rights body in Geneva, a resolution was adopted urging Sri Lanka to assign accountability for alleged war crimes by its army in the final phase of the country’s civil war against Tamil rebels or the LTTE. The resolution was backed by India, under stringent pressure from the DMK.