"Direct communication to LTTE would have had concrete benefits"- Lunstead

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 11:25 GMT]
Jeffrey Lunstead, former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, in a report detailing the involvement of his country in Sri Lanka's peace process says "that direct communication with the LTTE would have had concrete benefits including the ability to deliver a clear U.S. message about possible delisting of the LTTE as an FTO [Foreign Terrorist Organization]," but that the Deputy Secretary Armitage believed "such a contact would have been worth trying--but emphasized the difficulty of doing so at that time." The report was published by The Asia Foundation, Sri Lanka.

Commenting on one of the conditions for proscription of an organization as an FTO that "the organization's terrorist activity must threaten the security of U.S nationals or the national security," the Ambassador says "presumably, the LTTE designation was based on a determination that peace and security in South Asia were important to U.S. national security, and that they were threatened by the LTTE."

The Ambassador adds: "It should be noted that there is no legal proscription against meeting with LTTE officials. A decision not to meet with LTTE officials is a policy decision, not a legal one."

The Ambassador admits that "it is fair criticism" that "U.S. seemed ready to criticize the LTTE for terrorist acts and human rights abuses, but was not quite as quick to do the same for the government," but says, "U.S. would not want to create an impression that it takes violations connected to the government less seriously than those connected to the LTTE."

Lunstead sums up US approach to Sri Lanka peace: "The U.S. faces a delicate balancing act as it attempts to act positively in support of Sri Lanka and the peace process. On the one hand, it recognizes that the Tamils of Sri Lanka have legitimate grievances which the government must address. The U.S. sees the LTTE as a terrorist organization, but one which must be engaged if there is to be movement toward peace. The government, by contrast, is seen as a democratically elected government which deserves support."

 

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