India and Sri Lanka hold defence talks
NEW DELHI: India and Sri Lanka held high-level talks on Thursday on possible military training and arms sales to the island nation by its giant neighbour, an Indian defence ministry spokesman said.
He said Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Cyril Herath led a three-member team into the talks with officials accompanying his Indian counterpart Ajay Prasad in New Delhi, he said.
“The two sides also discussed regional security and the fight against global terrorism. The talks will continue tomorrow after which the Sri Lankan team will meet Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes,” spokesman Amitava Chakravarty said. He said Sri Lanka was interested in buying Indian helicopters, small transport aircraft and naval vessels for its fledgling navy.
The two sides already have an agreement on intelligence-sharing, training of military personnel and the supply of life-saving equipment.
“Colombo, however, wants the cooperation broadened to include the sale of weapons systems by New Delhi,” a ministry source said.
The ongoing visit of the Sri Lankan delegation is widely seen as a follow-up to a call for broader defence cooperation made by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe during his visit here last October. —AFP
Tigers pledge to honour ceasefire
COLOMBO: The Tamil Tiger rebel group has promised Norwegian peace brokers it will honour a cease-fire with the Sri Lankan government despite a power struggle between government leaders that has blocked peace efforts, a pro-rebel report said Thursday. On Wednesday, Norwegian officials met Tamil guerrilla leaders in London for the first time since suspending mediation efforts in November, when the political crisis began, the TamilNet Web site said. Peace broker Erik Solheim met the rebels’ London-based chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, and discussed the political situation and the possibility of resuming peace talks, TamilNet said. —AP