U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Steven Mann met with Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss the upsurge in fighting between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Sri Lankan security forces. More than seven hundred people have been killed this year, despite a cease-fire negotiated in 2002.
Mr. Mann says the United States, “calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities” and a return to negotiations for, “an undivided Sri Lanka.” The Tamil Tigers must “cease all acts of violence immediately and return to negotiations,” he said. “The government of Sri Lanka,” said Mr. Mann, “must work seriously to address legitimate Tamil grievances and ensure that the conduct of its security forces is impeccable, even in combat.”
Sri Lankan civilians and foreign humanitarian workers have been among those killed in fighting around the Sri Lankan city of Mutur. The Red Cross estimates over twenty-thousand people have been displaced.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mann said the United States calls, “on all sides to give full support to non-governmental organizations operating in the affected regions and to respect the dedicated work they are doing in alleviating the suffering.” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher says the Tamil Tigers are responsible for “scores of unprovoked attacks on civilians and military personnel, [and] assassinations and suicide operations.” Mr. Boucher says the terror must stop:
“The fact is this is a terrorist group that needs to be treated accordingly. That does not mean one has to close the door on peace. But it does mean that, as we try to leave the door open to peace, you have to walk through that door without a suicide bomb on your belt.”
Assistant Secretary of State Boucher says the U.S. is urging the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government, “to get back to the negotiating table and to create the climate for de-escalation of the violence and solution of the problems.”
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.