US wants cost of return to war to be high

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 12:43 GMT]
The United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Jeffrey Lunstead, told a business gathering in Colombo on Monday that the US wanted the "cost of a return to war to be high," in Sri Lanka. Resisting from accusing the Sri Lankan Armed forces in the escalation of the recent viloence, the US Ambassador, in his address to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka, said that the US wanted it to be clear, if the Tigers chose to "abandon peace," they will face a "stronger, more capable and more determined" Sri Lankan military.

Sri Lanka is at a tricky point in its history, the US Ambassador said explaining that it was not clear "if Sri Lanka was at a crossroads, or at a cliff’s edge."

The United States wants to remain committed to the peace process in Sri Lanka, and in helping the "legitimate governing bodies of Sri Lanka to prepare for their roles in developing and protecting their citizens," according to Jeffery Lunstead.

The LTTE’s current actions undermine its claims to legitimacy and they keep the aspirations of the Tamil people bottled up, Lunstead said.

Excerpts from the US Ambassador's address follow:

Jeffrey J. Lunstead
US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Jeffrey J. Lunstead
"Through our USAID program, we are helping to increase the competitiveness of Sri Lankan industries, we are helping Sri Lanka rebuild after the tsunami, and we are supporting efforts to help people realize the benefits of peace."

"Through our military training and assistance programs, including efforts to help with counterterrorism initiatives and block illegal financial transactions, we are helping to shape the ability of the Sri Lankan Government to protect its people and defend its interests."

"Let me be clear, our military assistance is not given because we anticipate or hope for a return to hostilities."

"We want peace. We support peace. And we will stand with the people of Sri Lanka who desire peace."

"If the LTTE chooses to abandon peace, however, we want it to be clear, they will face a stronger, more capable and more determined Sri Lankan military. We want the cost of a return to war to be high."

"Now you may be asking, why is the American Ambassador using such blunt language at a gathering of the business elite? What has this got to do with our businesses or our interests?"

"As I said in the beginning, it is imperative that the business community become seized with the peace process. For the peace and prosperity message to take hold, people need to understand better the prosperity element."

"Mahinda Chintana raises the issue of promoting rural-growth, something that is needed if the country as a whole is going to prosper in the years ahead. You can’t allow growth to leave huge segments of the population behind."

"Nonetheless, a focus on 'home grown' solutions, that ignores the lessons learned of the global community and that fails to take advantage of what we in the US call OPM – 'other people’s money' – will only lead to further stagnation and continued growth far below its potential."

"Let me read some recent newspaper headlines, some which actually appeared and some which might have been."

"Here is one from last week's Wall Street Journal:

'Intel explores Sri Lanka as site for chip plant.'

"No that is not the real headline, the real one is:"

'Intel explores Vietnam as site for chip plant.'

"Here is another one from the Wall Street Journal:"

'Microsoft targets India and Sri Lanka in $1.7 billion expansion.'

"Well, no, 'Sri Lanka' was not in that headline."

"The article continues that in addition to Microsoft's investment, Intel would invest over $1 billion in India, and that SemIndia would invest $3 billion to use AMD technology to produce microprocessor chips.

"And there are many other similar stories.

"Now I am not suggesting that Sri Lanka could or should compete with India."

"What I am suggesting is that there is an enormous amount of foreign investment going on, and Sri Lanka is not getting its share."


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