NEW DELHI: Drawing lessons from the 30-year-long war in the island nation, the visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe here on Wednesday categorically ruled out war as an option between the two nuclear-powered countries and lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s restrained approach on the matter.
“I don’t think war is an option for anyone,” Wickremesinghe said when asked if the situation between the two countries can escalate militarily.
Sri Lanka also urged India and Pakistan to tackle the issue of cross-border terrorism or else the future of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) would look bleak.
“Cross-border terrorism is on the table. The SAARC has to look at it and discuss what has happened (cancellation of its meet). How we are going to handle it.... The SAARC has to decide on two issues — cross-border terrorism and areas in which we can work together. If we don’t do that, there is no future for the regional grouping,” Wickremesinghe said, after meeting Modi. He also agreed that India-Pakistan rivalry already have an impact on the SAARC functioning.
Colombo had made the announcement of withdrawing from the SAARC Summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad, a few days after India, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh opted out.
During the meeting, Modi and Wickremesinghe discussed the roadmap to take SAARC forward. The latter felt that if one or two members left, there will not be any South Asia association.
The visiting PM also sought to allay fears regarding the country’s bilateral ties with China. “The relationship with China is an economic one, not military. The Chinese are involved in the infrastructure development projects in his country,” Wickremesinghe said.
On the ongoing reconciliation process between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil community after a protracted conflict, he said, “We have started the process to bring them (Tamil refugees in India) back. It will take time. Some people might not want to come back. The younger generations... might not want to come back.”