Krishna pays tributes to IPKF soldiers at Lanka

Colombo: In a first by any Indian political leader, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna today visited an IPKF memorial near here and paid rich tributes to the Indian soldiers who laid down their lives on a peacekeeping mission in war-torn Sri Lanka.

Krishna, who is on a four-day visit to Sri Lanka to hold talks with the top political leadership, drove to the memorial located in Pelawatte, 10 km from here, and called it an "abiding testimony" to the strong bonds of friendship between the two countries.

"It is a matter of pride for me to be here at the IPKF memorial in Sri Lanka, raised in honour of those brave soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces, who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving the cause of peace in Sri Lanka," Krishna wrote in the Visitor`s Book at the memorial.

The memorial for soldiers of the IPKF, who were sent to Sri Lanka from 1987 to 1989 as part of the Indo-Sri Lanka accord signed by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the then Sri Lankan President Jayawardhane, was built in 2008.

Krishna paid rich tributes to the 1,200 soldiers who lost their lives during the nearly two-year operation in this country and termed the memorial as an "abiding testimony to the strong bonds of friendship between the governments and the people of India and Sri Lanka".

"It is a also a symbol of India`s commitment to the unity, stability and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. On this occasion, I would like to pay my humble tribute to the exceptional courage and commitment shown by our soldiers under extremely challenging circumstances," the Minister wrote.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said Krishna is the first-ever political leader from India to visit the IPKF memorial. Earlier, officials from the Defence Forces had visited the memorial.

Krishna spent a few minutes at the memorial and had a look at the nameplate that has the list of soldiers who died during the operation. He also signed the visitors` book at the memorial. The Indian Peace Keepers arrived in Sri Lanka to oversee the implementation of the Indo-Lanka Accord.