India won't mediate in Sri Lanka talks

By HARBAKSH SINGH NANDA  |  April 11, 2002 at 4:12 PM
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NEW DELHI, April 12 (UPI) -- India Thursday rejected a plea for mediation in Sri Lanka's separatist conflict, a day after the head of the Tamil Tiger rebel group asked for New Delhi's role in talks with the government.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said New Delhi was not involved in the peace talks between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Sri Lankan government, "nor do we want to interfere."

LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, in a rare public appearance, said Wednesday his group and the Sri Lankan government would start talks in Thailand and asked for India's mediation.

India has a Tamil population of its own, most of it in Tamil Nadu state.

"It was outrageous how a leader of a terrorist outfit, responsible for the deaths of millions of people and declared proclaimed offender by an Indian special court, should be allowed to walk free in a friendly nation," Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha Jayaram said of Prabhakaran's speech.

Prabhakaran is wanted in India in connection with the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who was blown up by a member of his group.

The LTTE has waged an 18-year-long fight for a separate homeland in the north and east of the island nation. The rebels said some 17,000 guerrillas and 60,000 Tamil civilians have died in the fighting.

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