Election campaign should not jeopardize peace prospects- Schaffer

[TamilNet, Saturday, 10 September 2005, 01:37 GMT]
Asserting that "a major political change is needed if all communities are to live together in Sri Lanka," Teresita Schaffer, former U.S Ambassador to Sri Lanka, said at a US Congressional briefing of the Sri Lanka Caucus on Thursday that she hoped "Sri Lanka won’t throw away chances for this in the election campaign." Congressmen Jerry Weller (R-Il.) and Danny Davis (D-Il) participated briefly at the briefing held at the Cannon House Building, Washington, DC.

John Richardson
Prof John Richardson
Professor John M. Richardson, American University, School of International Service and Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, Secretary-General of Sri Lanka's Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process made statements, besides Ambassador Schaffer. Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke moderated the briefing.

Cautioning that Sri Lanka Government should be realistic about the level of support it can expect from the international community, Prof. John Richardson said that "Sri Lanka is going to have to take responsibility for its own problems and not look in any large degree for succor from the international community."

Teresita Schaffer
Ambassador Teresita Schaffer
Both Prof. Richardson and Ms Schaffer emphasized that the LTTE will continue to be a key player in the peace process that the Sri Lankan government must deal with directly. Prof. Richardson also said that "there needs to be the candid acknowledgement that military subjugation of LTTE is highly improbable."

Ambassador Schaffer said that "there is a need for flexibility in the United States’ rules on dealing with terrorist groups" and "if the ceasefire is reinstated and we start to get closer to a peace process, since the LTTE will once again be a key player on that side, we must be able to talk meaningfully with LTTE. We need real communication."

Jayantha Dhanapala
Dr Jayantha Dhanapala
She added that the recent criticism in Sri Lanka of Norway's role is unfair and cautioned that "changing the mediator doesn’t change the nature of the conflict."

Rep Weller, in his opening remark expressed his sympathies for the loss of Foreign Minister and said he found it "remarkable the government’s restraint since the assassination of this top minister."

Ambassador Dhanapala urged the international community to apply pressure to the LTTE and supplement Norway's work. He said that there is a need to have a fresh look at peace process. "The carrot and more carrots approach hasn’t worked with the LTTE. The Sri Lanka government calls for concerted action against the LTTE and its numerous front organizations in many countries through which it continues its reign of terror in Sri Lanka," Dr Dhanapala said.


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