US responds to LTTE airstrike

[TamilNet, Monday, 02 April 2007, 08:37 GMT]
Asked for the United States’ reaction to the LTTE airstrike on the military airbase at Katunayake last Monday, the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert O’ Blake said: “The LTTE’s successful deployment of an offensive air capability is a matter of great concern.” He told Sri Lanka’s state-owned Daily News: “We do not believe there can be a military solution to this conflict. Rather, both sides should cease hostilities so talks can take place on a negotiated settlement.” He also said that the US “does not perceive a specific threat to our citizens who intend to travel to the tourist areas.”

“The United States believes Sri Lanka now has an important opportunity to achieve peace,” Ambassador Blake said.

“We very much hope that the power-sharing proposal that emerges from the APRC process will be a credible one that meets the aspirations of the Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim people of Sri Lanka. This could then form the basis for talks leading to a negotiated settlement.”

The full text of Ambassador Blake's interview with the Daily News, released by the US embassy in Colombo, follows:

Question: What is the US reaction to the LTTE attack Monday on the military side of the Colombo international airport?

Ambassador Blake: The LTTE’s successful deployment of an offensive air capability is a matter of great concern. The United States designated the LTTE as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997. Since that time, we have worked with the Government of Sri Lanka to stop the flow of arms and terrorist financing to the LTTE. The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 15 suspects in August 2006 for conspiring to buy surface-to-air missiles in the U.S. and trying to bribe U.S. officials to get the Tamil Tigers removed from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. The FBI subsequently arrested four additional suspects in September in Guam. The investigation is ongoing.

Question: Has the United States changed its travel advice to Americans as a result of this attack?

Ambassador Blake: There has been no substantive change in our advice. The U.S. Embassy does not perceive a specific threat to our citizens who intend to travel to the tourist areas in the Cultural Triangle or those further south. We do strongly advise Americans not to travel north of a line from Puttalam on the west coast through Anuradhapura in the central north to Polonnaruwa to Bibile to Pottuvil on the east coast.

Question: Does the attack change the U.S. view about the solution to the conflict?

Ambassador Blake: We do not believe there can be a military solution to this conflict. Rather, both sides should cease hostilities so talks can take place on a negotiated settlement. The United States believes Sri Lanka now has an important opportunity to achieve peace. We very much hope that the power-sharing proposal that emerges from the APRC process will be a credible one that meets the aspirations of the Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim people of Sri Lanka. This could then form the basis for talks leading to a negotiated settlement. The United States welcomed Foreign Minister Bogollagama’s remarks during his recent visit to Washington that the government’s peace initiative is on track to seek a broad-based political consensus in the south in favor of political proposals that would lead to a sustainable peace.

 

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