Sri Lankan govt. decides to strengthen eastern security

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 19 August 2003, 18:23 GMT]
AT a conference held at the Sri Lankan Defense Ministry Tuesday, it was decided to strengthen the security in the eastern province by sending additional security forces to the “problem districts.” Mr.Tilak Marapone, the Sri Lankan Defense Minister, presided over the conference, which was attended by the chiefs of three armed forces and the Inspector General of Police, security sources said.

The conference was hurriedly summoned Tuesday following the meeting between the Prime Minister, Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe, and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader and Minister, Mr.Rauff Hakeem, held Monday afternoon in the parliamentary complex, sources said

Mr. Hakeem briefed Mr. Wickremasinghe about the volatile situation in the East following the killings of Muslim persons in Trincomalee and Sammanthurai within a week's time, sources said.

On the instruction of Mr.Wickremasinghe, the Defense Minister summoned a security conference at his ministry. Parliamentarians Mr. M.S.Thoufeek and Mr.K.M.Thowfeek also attended the conference. The conference decided to appoint three senior security officers to monitor the security situation in the East and to take prompt action to defuse tension in the provinces, sources said.

Addressing a press briefing in the parliamentary complex Tuesday afternoon, Minister Hakeem said all steps have been taken to strengthen the security increasing the number of security forces in the East. " I am satisfied with the steps taken by the United National Front government in strengthening the security of the East," he said.

" The increased presence of armed forces in the East should not be construed as a preparation for war again. We are firm that the peace process could not be reversed and no party could wage a war again. The present peace process should be taken forward by rectifying the shortcomings," said Mr. Hakeem.

" We are prepared to hold talks with the LTTE leaders to solve our differences and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) has been asked to facilitate such direct talks with the LTTE," the Minister said.

Mr. Hakeem further said that the LTTE also has the responsibility of reinforcing confidence among communities.

In response to a question, Mr. Hakeem said that leaving the UNF government when the security of the Muslim community is threatened would not bring a solution to the problems faced by Muslims.


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