Troop training: Lanka says Tamil Nadu dispute not serious


The Government yesterday said it would continue to send security force personnel for training to neighbouring India despite protests from politicians in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

“India is the single largest overseas training base for Sri Lankan security forces personnel and this has been the case for the past decade,” Cabinet spokesperson and Minister Kehiliya Rambukwella told the Sunday Times.

He said the recent outcry over the training of nine Lankan airmen at a base in Tamil Nadu was not serious because even at present, Sri Lanka had 1,500 to 2,000 security forces personnel under training in various parts of India.
He said the dispute in Tamil Nadu was clearly a political issue raised by regional politicians but it would not affect the military cooperation between the two countries, he said.

However he said the Indian government had to consider local political compulsions and that was the reason for the transfer of the nine airmen from the Tambaram Base to neighbouring Bangalore.

It was only the other day that India’s National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon pledged more military cooperation between the two countries during talks held with the government leaders in Colombo last week.
“This goes to show the depth of our military ties with India whether it is training or otherwise,” the minister said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jeyaram Jayalalithaa and other regional politicians in Tamil Nadu had asked the Indian government to send back the nine airmen to Colombo saying that training them on Indian soil was an embarrassment to the Tamil people.

Meanwhile a Sri Lankan delegation consisting of Navy and Coast Guard officials met Indian Navy and Coast Guard officials at Kankesanthurai on Friday to discuss matters relating to fishing activities and naval operations.
The Lankan delegation was led by Northern Naval Commander Ravindra Wijegunaratne.

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