India opposes US-led evacuation

By Our Diplomatic Editor

A United States-backed military evacuation of civilians trapped in the Mullaitivu battle zones — a move rejected by Tiger guerrillas — has also met with disfavour from India.

The Sunday Times learns India, which wants to see the civilians out, feels such an evacuation operation should be undertaken collectively by the United Nations.

The Indian position on this, Foreign Ministry sources confirmed, had been conveyed to Sri Lanka. This compelled Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama to announce that the Government has “not permitted any international forces to evacuate civilians from the Wanni.”

He made these remarks at a news conference last Tuesday. Two weeks earlier, Mr. Bogollagama told The Sunday Times he was “aware of the intended US-led coalition humanitarian task force.”

Last month, the Commanding General of the US Marine Corps third Marine Evacuation Brigade Brigadier General R.L. Bailey, headed a six-man PACOM team to Sri Lanka.

Others comprised a Logistics Planner, Air Planner, Naval Planner, Medical Planner and a Medical Corps Operations Planner.

Indian High Commission Spokesman told The Sunday Times that he was not in a position to comment about the developments.

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