2ND LEAD (Minor corrections)

Sri Lanka assured of Co-Chairs’ military, financial support

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 22 November 2006, 13:13 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s casual dismissal of the Co-Chairs statement Tuesday condemning rights abuses and ceasefire violations by the armed forces stems from confidence that, despite these, military and financial support from the international community is not going to be disrupted – a point reinforced by the strong messages of support for Colombo by individual representatives of the Co-Chairs soon after their meeting in Washington on Tuesday.

US Under Secretary for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns; Norwegian Minister of International Development Erik Solheim, Japanese Special Envoy Yasushi Akashi, and European Commission and European Commission Director General for External Relations Herve Jouanjean addressed the press in Washington Tuesday evening.

"I'd just say on behalf of the United States that we have faith in the government and faith in the President of Sri Lanka. They do want to make peace," said Mr. Burns.

"We also believe that the Tamil Tigers, the LTTE, is a terrorist group responsible for massive bloodshed in the country and we hold the Tamil Tigers responsible for much of what has gone wrong in the country.”

“We are not neutral in this respect," he said.

"We support the government. We have a good relationship with the government,” he said.

“We believe the government has a right to try to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. The government has a right to protect the stability and security in the country. We meet often with the government at the highest levels and consider the government to be a friend to our country.”

“We are working with Sri Lanka as a partner in counterterrorism as well as counterproliferation. All that is happening,” he said.

Crucially, the Co-Chairs, who represent the Sri Lanka’s donor community said that there would be no curtailment of international aid.

"We have not discussed the future of our [aid] cooperation during these discussions," the EU’s Mr. Jouanjean said of the Co-Chairs meeting in Washington.

“[But] together with our [Co-Chair] colleagues we [EU] are a major donor of assistance cooperation, assistance to Sri Lanka, acting both in the framework of the Tokyo Declaration as well as in the normal framework of our development policy,

“The amounts of money are quite huge. So I think the four of us are very active there. We have not discussed the future of our cooperation during these discussions,” he said.

Mr. Burns said: “we do have an assistance program for that government, in fact, a very intensive one and we intend to continue that of course.”

And despite peace conditionalities attached to $4.5billion pledged by donors who met in Tokyo in 2003, much of the aid had been disbursed anyway, Mr. Akashi said.

"The great bulk of this has already been delivered by the way of pledge to close linkage between the peace process and the assistance process," he said.

Since early 2004, Sri Lanka has seen escalating violence, initially between Army-backed paramilitaries and the LTTE and this year direct confrontations between the military and the LTTE.

Truce monitors say 3,000 civilians, troops and Tigers have been killed while extra-judicial killings and disappearances are soaring.


Chronology:


External Links:
US: Press Conference on Tokyo Donors Conference

 

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