New Delhi —Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President Junius Jayewardene met Sunday to discuss ethnic violence in Sri Lanka, then flew to cyclone-ravaged Bangladesh for a meeting with the country’s leader.
A spokesman said Gandhi and Jayewardene met for almost two hours, but he refused to comment on the nature of their discussions.
Immediately after the conference, Gandhi and Jayewardene flew to Bangladesh where they planned to meet Lt. Gen. H.M. Ershad, the nation’s president, to express their sorrow over the deaths of the victims of last week’s cyclone.
The discussions about Sri Lanka were to continue aboard the plane, and an additional meeting was scheduled Monday.
Jayewardene and Gandhi met alone Sunday for 45 minutes, then were joined by Indian Defense Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and Sri Lankan National Security Minister Lilith Athulathmudali.
Violence in Sri Lanka between the Sinhalese Buddhist majority and the Tamil Hindu minority has left almost 1,000 people dead in the last six months and sent more than 100,000 refugees fleeing to India.
The Tamils charge the government with discrimination and accuse the largely Sinhalese security forces of atrocities against Tamil civilians.
Tamil militants figate Tamil nation on the island have also launched a terror campaign. Last month, rebels killed more than 200 civilians in an attack in the sacred Buddhist city of Anuradhapura.
India will play a key role in any peace settlement because Tamil militant organizations have established headquarters and training camps in southern India, just across the narrow Palk Strait from the island of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has asked India to move against the bases, and some Sri Lankan government officials are also concerned they will be unable to control the increasingly powerful Tamils without India’s help.
Diplomatic sources said the Indian government, which is anxious to return the refugees to Sri Lanka, would like to see the Ta: mils achieve security and autonomy within Sri Lanka without the establishment of a separate state.
India has also called on Sri Lanka to restrain its security forces from killing Tamil civilians.
Article extracted from this publication >> June 7, 1985