ADB President visits Killinochchi, holds talks with LTTE
[TamilNet, Friday, 07 March 2003, 18:21 GMT]
The President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Mr.Tadao Chino, Friday reaffirmed ADB's commitment to supporting the peace process with rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance, during a meeting with representatives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Killinochchi, northern Sri Lanka, a press release issued by the Sri Lanka Resident Mission of the ADB said.
Mr.Chino, who met with Mr.S.P.Thamilchelvan and other members of the LTTE's political wing Friday at the Killinochchi secretariat, said he was impressed with the progress made in the peace talks since the ceasefire agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE a year ago.
"We believe a lot has been done and are encouraged by the achievements that have been made so far. We realize there are challenging issues which need to be resolved and we will do what we can to continue and enhance our support for this process," he said.
The ADB President stressed the importance of putting an end to the conflict, which had caused much devastation to the country, particularly in the north and east. International support will be essential for the large reconstruction program needed in these regions, he said
Left to right: Ms Ann Quon, Deputy Director, Office of External Relations, ADB, Mr Hafeez Rahman, Director, Operations Coordination Division, South Asia, Mr Yoshihiro Iwasaki, Director General, South Asia†Regional Department, ADB, Tadao Chino, President, ADB, M John R Cooney, Country Director, Sri Lanka Resident Mission, ADB.
ADB along with other funding agencies is preparing needs assessment for a major donor conference in Tokyo to address the reconstruction needs of Sri Lanka in June.
Mr. Chino further said that the success of the conference would depend on the level of commitment of the parties concerned in the peace process and how the international community perceives the process.
"ADB and Sri Lanka's development partners, many of whom are ADB shareholders, need to be assured that all the people of Sri Lanka can enjoy the benefits of peace," he said.
ADB projects are already underway in the North and East. ADB supports the North East Community Restoration and Development Project (NECORD) with a loan of US $ 25 million. The project covers a range of complimentary activities in all eight districts in the North and East to help the people in these conflict-affected areas rebuild their lives. The activities include access to shelter, education, health, other basic services and livelihood.
Countrywide, ADB's program of assistance to Sri Lanka was nearly US$ 240 million in 2002. This program supports development projects throughout the country in such critical sectors as education, energy, public sector resource management, and transport, the press release by the ADB concluded.
ADB's Country Director Mr.John R.Cooney, Director General Mr.Yoshihiro Iwasaki, South Asia's Operations/Co-ordinating Secretary Mr.Haffez Rahman also participated in the discussion. LTTE's Administrative head Mr.S.Thangan, LTTE political activist Daya Master and Sinnappa master of theThamileelam Administrative Service accompanied Mr.Thamilsevan to the meeting.
NECORD Project Director Mr.T.Lankaneson, North East Provincial Council Chief Secretary Mr.S.Rangarajah, Government Agents of Killinochchi, Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna districts Messrs T.Rasanayagam, K.Ganesh, V.Visuvalingam and S.Pathmanathan respectively also participated in the discussion, sources said.
Before leaving to Colombo, the ADB President and his team visited the Elephant Pass area. Later they paid a visit to the Killinochchi Maha Vidiyalayam and conversed with students and teachers, sources said
The ADB President and his team arrived Friday in Killinochchi by a special helicopter. The following is the full text of his statement after his meeting with LTTE.
"Good afternoon. I am very pleased to be in Killinochchi. Although my visit is brief it, has been very productive. Earlier this morning, I met with Mr.Thamilselvan, and other representatives of the LTTE, and had a very useful exchange of views. I told him we are impressed with the progress being made in the peace talks. We believe a lot has been done and are encouraged by the achievement so far. We realize there are challenging issues that need to be resolved and we will do what we can to continue to support and enhance our support for this purpose.
"It is important that a lasting peace be found to put an end to this conflict which has caused such devastation to the North and East, and to the country as a whole. My meeting gave us the chance to discuss the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the conflict affected areas.
"International support will be essential for the reconstruction program to be undertaken in the North and East and for Sri Lanka itself to regain what two decades of conflict have cost it.
"As you know, ADB is working with the World Bank, United Nations, the Subcommittee for Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs (SIHRN) and others to prepare a needs assessment for the Tokyo donors conference in June. This will provide us, and others, with a very good basis for developing our future assistance programs. The LTTE is involved with the assessment process and this will contribute significantly to the success of the conference.
"Of course, its success will also depend on the level of commitment of the parties concerned in the peace process and how the international community perceives the process. ADB and Sri Lanka's development partners, many of whom are ADB's shareholders, need to be assured that all the people of Sri Lanka can enjoy the benefits of peace. After more than 20 years of conflict, it will take more than a few years for recovery. We, at ADB, stand ready to work with our development partners and the international community in forging a bright, prosperous and peaceful future for Sri Lanka. Thank you."