US security officials, ambassador visit Batticaloa
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 14 February 2001, 20:37 GMT]
The US ambassador for Sri Lanka, Ashley Wills, visited Batticaloa Wednesday with the mission’s Defence Attaché and its Regional Security Officer. The US embassy delegation held a two-hour discussion with SLA officers at the headquarters of the 23-3 brigade in Batticaloa town about the security situation in the district. The delegation also met Air Force and Police officers of the region thereafter. The ambassador later called on Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, Tamil United Liberation Front MP for Batticaloa. Security was tightened in places the US delegation was expected to visit in the town.
The US ambassador spoke to the Government Agent for the district, Mr. Mounagurusamy and representatives of the Non-governmental organisations worknig in Batticaloa to elicit their views on the human rights situation, rehabilitation and development work and the problems faced by the people in the region.
He met the local NGO’s at Lake View Inn, a small hotel by the lagoon that has survived the ravages of the war in this underdeveloped east coast district.
Mr. Joseph Pararajasigham told the ambassador that Colombo continuing the war against the Liberation Tigers despite the ceasefire unilaterally declared by them would ruin all hopes for peace. The MP urged him that the US and other western nations should therefore prevail on the Sri Lankan government to create the conditions appropriate for peace talks.
Responding to the US ambassador’s observation that there is doubt in some quarters that the Tigers might pull out of talks, Mr. Joseph said that reservations about the LTTE’s bona fide were baseless because the organisation has entered the peace process with sincerity, taking into due consideration the sufferings of their people and are hence determined that a just solution to the problem should be found.
‘If Britain bans the Liberation Tigers it would sink the peace process in Sri Lanka. Hence the international community should urge Britain not act in a manner that would foil the peace initiative’ the MP told Mr. Wills.
The US should welcome that the Liberation Tigers want normalcy restored in the north and east and desire that a just solution be found for the ethnic problem through negotiations and lift the ban on them, Mr. Joseph told the US mission officials.
The mission’s second secretary (political) and it political assistant arrived in Batticaloa on Monday. They met government and NGO officials and had discussions with two senior local journalists as well. The embassy’s Defence and Army Attaché, Lt. Colonel Frank L. Rindone was on a familiarization visit to the district last year.