New Delhi, December 2:

There can be no military solution to the dragging conflict in Sri Lanka, and all countries need to encourage “a negotiated, political settlement”, India and the European Union have said.

In a joint statement released after the meeting here yesterday, the two sides said “a credible devolution package” unveiled by the Sri Lankan government would play a major role in ending decades of bloodshed.

The statement said: “There is no military solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka. A negotiated, political settlement, acceptable to all communities within the framework of a united Sri Lanka is the goal all international efforts should encourage. “A credible devolution package would be a major contribution to this end. The leaders urged the parties to ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, and to guarantee access for humanitarian aid to the population.”

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s defence ministry said today that at least 52 combatants were killed and 25 wounded in fresh fighting between security forces and Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka’s embattled north during the weekend.

With the upsurge in clashes along the de facto frontlines separating the mini-state held by the guerrillas, the military stepped up the already tight security in the capital, police said.

Heavily-armed troops and police searched almost all vehicles entering Colombo, causing traffic delays. Minority Tamil politicians said hundreds of ethnic Tamils had been detained by the forces in several police stations throughout Colombo as part of the cordon-and-search operations.