India says ready to back U.N. vote on Sri Lanka war crimes

NEW DELHI Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:55pm IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Pretoria October 18, 2011. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Pretoria October 18, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Related Topics

Rajalakshmi (C), 28, smiles after winning the Miss Wheelchair India beauty pageant in Mumbai November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Miss Wheelchair India

Seven women from across India participated in the country's second wheelchair beauty pageant, which aims to open doors for the wheelchair-bound in modelling, film and television, according to organisers  Slideshow 

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India said on Monday it was likely to support a U.S.-led resolution at the United Nations to pressure Sri Lanka on war crimes, a policy shift that helps the government domestically but could damage relations with the island nation.

Western powers are increasingly taking Sri Lanka to task for not investigating allegations of widespread extra-judicial killings and other abuses by soldiers against Tamil minority civilians in the final months of a decades-long civil war that ended in 2009.

"We do not yet have the final text," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the lower house of parliament, referring to a resolution that calls on Sri Lanka to honour a promise to probe the alleged abuses. "However, I may assure the house that we are inclined to vote in favour," Singh added.

The proposed resolution, which is due later this month though no date has been fixed, carries no legal sanctions, but could damage Sri Lanka's image as it steps up efforts to attract tourists and investment.

During the war, India tacitly supported President Mahinda Rajapaksa's determination to wipe out the Tamil Tiger separatists, and since then it has backed Sri Lanka's position that it can handle its own internal affairs.

Political pressure has been mounting on Singh to alter his stance, and India's Tamil-dominated Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party, which is key to Singh's coalition, threatened to quit the government if it does not support the resolution.

Were India to vote with the U.S. and other Western governments at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Sri Lanka could ally itself more firmly with China, which is building a major port on the south of the island and helped finance the last stage of the war.

Sri Lanka's Foreign Secretary Karunatilake Amunugama told Reuters India had not informed his government of any change in position.

"I would say they would take a measured response considering our friendship and bilateral relations. So we believe India would support us," he said.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has launched an internal probe to study the last seven years of the war, but critics say he has dragged his feet on the investigation.

"Not much progress has been achieved on reconciliation in Sri Lanka. And there is a lot of public concern in India," an official in India's foreign ministry said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

(Additional reporting by Ranga Sirilal in Colombo; Editing by Daniel Magnowski and Frank Jack Daniel)

FILED UNDER:

Reuters Showcase

Kashmir Attack

Kashmir Attack

Ten dead in Kashmir's worst militant attack in more than a year.  Full Article 

New Twist

New Twist

CBI says girls found hanging from tree in Badaun killed themselves.  Full Article 

Bird Flu Strain

Bird Flu Strain

Bird flu outbreak in India caused by strain humans can contract - OIE.  Full Article 

Cricketing Tragedy

Cricketing Tragedy

A sport left heartbroken by death of Hughes  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

GDP growth to slow to 5.1 pct, but no rate cut yet - Reuters Poll.  Full Article 

Racial Unrest

Racial Unrest

Protests in Ferguson, elsewhere dwindle after two nights of unrest.  Full Article 

Suicide Blast

Suicide Blast

Suicide bomber kills five in attack on British embassy car in Kabul - officials.  Full Article 

A Minute With: Nandita Das

A Minute With: Nandita Das

A telephone interview with actress Nandita Das.  Full Article 

Jamini Roy

Jamini Roy

Photo Gallery – Bengali household name Jamini Roy’s paintings  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage