South Asia summit to focus on Sri Lanka, regional unrest

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NEW DELHI, March 28, 2007 (AFP) – India voiced concern on Wednesday over the first-ever air raid staged by Tamil Tiger rebels and said that next week’s regional summit would focus on escalating violence in Sri Lanka.

“We have made it clear to everyone that we are very concerned at the escalated violence in Sri Lanka and the air strike is one aspect of it,” Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon told a news conference in New Delhi.

The statement marked India’s first official reaction to Monday’s bombing of a Sri Lankan military airbase by guerrillas of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) using at least one light aircraft.

Menon’s comments coincided with statements by Sri Lanka’s military that it had captured a key LTTE stronghold in the island’s embattled east following the surprise air strike, next to Colombo international airport, which killed three people.

He said the 35-year-old conflict would figure in next week’s summit of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) which for the first time will be attended by observers from China, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

“Sri Lanka told us they intend to raise this (the fighting),” Menon said, referring to p