Page last updated at 17:14 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 18:14 UK

Sri Lanka to train Pakistani army

Sri Lankan army chief inspects guard of honour
Sri Lanka will offer specialist counter-insurgency training

Sri Lanka's army has said it will be happy to give training to members of the Pakistani military.

It says Islamabad has requested the training because of the country's success in defeating the Tamil Tigers.

In May, the government announced the end to a decades-long war with the rebel group.

The army's new commander told the BBC that Pakistan had already asked if it could send its military cadets to train in counter-insurgency operations.

"We'll give a favourable response," Lt Gen Jagath Jayasuriya said of the request.

He said the Sri Lankan military envisaged specialist courses lasting up to six weeks, directed towards small groups from interested armies.

Lt Gen Jayasuriya said there was external interest in how the military had defeated the rebel group in practical terms.

The army now wished to construct a written military doctrine in English.

Mutual support

He said Sri Lanka had offered similar training, through diplomatic channels, to other countries including the United States, India, Bangladesh and The Philippines.

He dismissed reports that the Pakistanis might receive military training in newly recaptured parts of northern Sri Lanka, saying it would be more likely in the south-east.

But he did say new permanent military bases would be set up in those northern areas including the rebels' former headquarters, Kilinochchi.

Sri Lanka and Pakistan have long enjoyed warm relations.

In late May, Pakistan - like India, China and Russia - helped Colombo defeat a motion at the UN which would have criticised both the government and the rebels for allegedly violating humanitarian law during the war.

But India, which is highly influential here, might well be uncomfortable at this news of the Pakistanis' interest in being trained.

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