Donors call for early return to Peace Talks

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 18 February 2004, 15:12 GMT]
"A return to the peace table, along with strict adherence to the terms of the ceasefire agreement, is essential to sustain the peace process for the benefit of all ethnic communities in Sri Lanka," said the the co-chairs of the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka (the United States, European Union, Japan, and Norway) who met in Washington today, in a press release issued by the US State Department.

Full text of the press release follows:

Press Statement
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 17, 2004

Sri Lanka Donor Co-Chairs Call for Early Return to Peace Talks

The co-chairs of the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka (the United States, European Union, Japan, and Norway) met in Washington today to discuss the international community’s support of Sri Lanka’s peace process. The co-chair group is pleased to note that in cooperation with the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission, the parties have largely upheld the ceasefire in Sri Lanka for two years. With each passing month more displaced Sri Lankans return to their homes and more humanitarian demining occurs. The co-chairs applaud these indicators of peace, while at the same time call for the earliest possible resumption of peace talks, which have been suspended since April 2003. A return to the peace table, along with strict adherence to the terms of the ceasefire agreement, is essential to sustain the peace process for the benefit of all ethnic communities in Sri Lanka.

The co-chairs express their disappointment at the breakdown of “co-habitation” efforts. They call on all political figures to work to ensure that parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2 are free, fair, and peaceful, and conducted in an atmosphere free of political violence throughout the country. They underscore the importance that campaign rhetoric must be devoid of religious and ethnic intolerance and must not be used in ways that undermine the important gains that have been made in the peace process. The co-chairs encourage donors to provide support for independent local and international election monitors and call on all parties to ensure that they can carry out their mission in safety. After the elections conclude, the co-chairs urge the political parties to work expeditiously to establish clarity of responsibilities, so that the peace process – and the entire process of governance – can resume, regardless of the outcome of elections.

The co-chairs welcome the LTTE’s statements of commitment to the ceasefire and to negotiations. The co-chairs encourage them to act responsibly during and after the election campaign.

The co-chairs reiterate their continued determination to implement their assistance pledged at the Tokyo Conference, based on the principles of the Tokyo Declaration, which makes clear that assistance by the donor community must be closely linked to substantial and parallel progress in the peace process. In the meantime, mindful of the Tokyo Declaration, the co-chairs recognize that there are particularly urgent needs for assistance for people in the war-torn areas and throughout Sri Lanka. The co-chairs call on all donors to continue delivering humanitarian relief and rehabilitation assistance to all needy areas of the country.

The co-chairs will convene a meeting at an early date after the elections.

 

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