Amid severe attack by Tamil parties over engagement with Sri Lanka, the Indian government has called off the annual defence dialogue with Sri Lanka scheduled to start from 23 March.
No reason was given for cancellation of the secretary-level talks which were to be held in New Delhi for three days. “The Annual Defence Dialogue with Sri Lanka has been called off,” a person with knowledge of the development said, adding new dates have not been decided yet.
During the talks, the two sides were to discuss ways to strengthen defence ties and finalize future military exercises. The decision has come at a time when Tamil Nadu parties are protesting India’s engagement with Sri Lanka.
Parties, including key United Progressive Alliance (UPA) ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), has been criticizing the government for holding training for Sri Lankan forces, which has subsequently been shifted from South to North India.
However, India has also maintained that it will not cease military ties with Sri Lanka and continue to provide training to its personnel in Indian military academies and institutions. India had shifted the exercise between Special Forces of the two countries from Belgaum in Karnataka to Nahan in Himachal Pradesh.
Likewise, it had also instructed the Navy to hold war games with the Lankan Navy away from the waters of four South Indian states. Recently, DMK has accused the government of being soft on alleged atrocities by Sri Lankan forces against ethnic Tamils and even threatened to withdraw support if India does not support a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council. (PTI)