Russia welcomes Sri Lanka defeat of Tamil Tigers

MOSCOW, May 19, 2009 (AFP) – Russia on Tuesday welcomed Sri Lanka’s announcement of the Tamil Tiger rebels’ defeat, saying it supported the Asian government’s “fight against terrorism.”

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse on Tuesday announced the final defeat of the Tamil Tigers, even as rebels insisted their leader was still alive and vowed to fight on for a Tamil homeland. “Russia supports the Sri Lankan government’s fight against terrorism and separatism to ensure its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding it hoped the conflict’s end would bring about “peace, stability and security” in Sri Lanka.

“Moscow wishes our friend Sri Lanka’s government and people to swiftly overcome the conflict’s consequences and build successful economic and social progress based on inter-ethnic accord and respect of all ethnic and religious groups,” the statement added.

Russia has faced its own unrest in Chechnya, where clashes have occurred regularly despite the recent end of a longstanding “counter-terrorist operation” in the region.