International community hails permanent ceasefire
[TamilNet, Friday, 22 February 2002, 22:43 GMT]
The international community Friday welcomed the signing this week of a permanent ceasefire between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Sri Lanka government. India, the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan released statements urging a negotiated settlement to Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict.
“India welcomes the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE,” said a statement from India’s Ministry of External Affairs. “This MoU will provide an opportunity to both sides to move forward towards a substantive dialogue for a negotiated political settlement of the ethnic conflict in a manner which would meet the aspirations of all sections of Sri Lankan society and restore lasting peace in that country.”
“India reiterates its commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and once again assures the people and Government of Sri Lanka, India’s consistent support to the peace process and to cooperating fully towards Sri Lanka’s economic development and progress,” said Delhi’s statement.
The United States echoed India’s sentiments. “We welcome the agreement between the Sri Lankan government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam which formalizes the unilateral ceasefires in place since December 2001,” said a statement from a United States spokesman. “The United States continues to support the Norwegian government's facilitation effort and its continued focus on helping to bring about a negotiated settlement to the conflict.”
“A political solution to this conflict in the context of an undivided Sri Lanka would be welcomed by the international community. If Sri Lankans constructively approach talks and show a willingness to compromise, we believe peace can return,” said the statement from the US State Department.
The British Foreign Office’s Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ben Bradshaw, commenting on the agreement said: “I warmly welcome the announcement today that the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE have signed a formal agreement on cessation of hostilities.”
“I applaud the efforts all parties have made to bring this about. It is important that all parties build on this agreement and continue to make progress towards a negotiated settlement that meets the aspirations of all communities in Sri Lanka,” he added.
The Japanese embassy said in a statement in Colombo that Tokyo also welcomed the ceasefire agreement brokered by Norway. Japan is the largest aid donor to Sri Lanka.