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Russia pledges support for Sri Lanka’s counter-terrorism measures

(May 09, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Government of the Russian Federation strongly supports the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to eradicate the menace of terrorism from the island. This pledge was made by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov to his Sri Lankan counterpart, Rohitha Bogollagama during a telephone discussion between them last Wednesday (6th May 2009).

Minister Bogollagama, who initiated the telephone call, gave a comprehensive account to the Russian Foreign Minister of the action taken by the Sri Lankan security forces in recent weeks to liberate thousands of civilians entrapped by the LTTE as hostages in the no-fire zone (NFZ).The LTTE was still holding the remaining civilian population as human shields in a rapidly shrinking strip of land in the NFZ on the north eastern coast of Sri Lanka, near Mullaitivu. The Minister emphasized that the security forces are taking extra-ordinary precautions in their operations to rescue the remaining civilians from LTTE control, in order to avoid causing civilian casualties.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister also briefed his Russian counterpart on the massive humanitarian relief effort undertaken by the Government, with the support of the international community to provide the large number of civilians who have escaped from the clutches of the LTTE and come over to the cleared areas, food, temporary accommodation in IDP transit camps and welfare villages, medical and other essential services. The Minister noted that Government is committed to the re-settlement of all the displaced civilians in their original places of habitation, in the shortest possible time, once demining and restoration of basic infrastructure facilities in those areas have been completed. The Russian Minister commended the Sri Lankan Government for the measures it has taken to cater to the needs and welfare of the IDPs.

Both Foreign Ministers exchanged views on some regional and international issues, in the context of their countries’ participation in fora such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the Asia Co-operation Dialogue (ACD). Minister Bogollagama noted that Sri Lanka will be assuming the Chair of the ACD next month and would be hosting the Ministerial Conference in October this year. He also extended an invitation to the Russian Foreign Minister to visit Sri Lanka, which the latter gladly accepted. Foreign Minister Lavrov is expected to visit Sri Lanka later this year.

-Sri Lanka Guardian

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