Divided polity, absence of trust, cause for stalled peace- Rocca

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 15 June 2005, 14:16 GMT]
Emphasizing that the goal of United States is to help Sri Lanka end the decades long bloody conflict, Christina B. Rocca, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, during a hearing before the House International Relations Subcommittee for Asia and the Pacific, said, "This [the stalled peace process] is due in part to divisions within the Sri Lankan government and the absence of trust between the government and the LTTE..."

The hearing took place at the Rayburn House Office Building on 14 June at 9.30 am.

Reiterating the view of the Co-chairs of the Sri Lanka Donor Group which met in Washington, Monday, Chairman of the Subcommittee of Asia and Pacific, Congressman James A Leach, in his opening statement, said "the coalition government in Colombo continues to debate the efficacy of a "joint mechanism" to provide tsunami relief to Tamil majority areas of North and East. Agreement on such an aid mechanism could be an important confidence building measure and a catalyst for the stalemated peace process."

Excerpts of Ms Rocca's statement related to Sri Lanka follow:

US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Ms Christina Rocca"Our primary goal in Sri Lanka is to help that country end more than a decade of bloody conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE. The United States continues to support Norway’s facilitation of a peace settlement in Sri Lanka. The cease-fire of 2002 is holding, although violence is ongoing and the peace process has stalled. This is due in part to divisions within the Sri Lankan government and the absence of trust between the government and the LTTE, which continues to use assassinations and suicide bombers, underscoring their character as an organization wedded to terrorism and justifying their designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Recovery from last December’s tsunami preempted the peace process as the primary concern of both parties for the past several months. With Norwegian assistance, the parties have been negotiating an agreement to regulate the distribution of tsunami reconstruction aid. This agreement, a Joint Mechanism, is an opportunity to build trust between the parties and is therefore an important contribution to the peace process should it come to fruition.

President Kumaratunga has publicly committed herself to signing the Joint Mechanism, but she faces serious challenges from members of her government who oppose the mechanism. The United States firmly supports her plan to sign the Joint Mechanism and remains prepared, along with other donors, to help Sri Lanka address urgent post-conflict reconstruction needs. The goal of peaceful reconciliation will need to help guide our post-tsunami reconstruction assistance."

 

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