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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2223

Foreign Minister endorses co-chairs statement that international efforts failed in pursuading LTTE to release civilians

Colombo, 06 February, ( The Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama appreciates the statement made by the Tokyo Co-Chairs who have recognized that the "international efforts to persuade the LTTE to allow the civilians freedom of movement have failed". The Co-Chairs have also drawn attention to the fact that within a short period of time, the LTTE will lose control of the remaining areas in the North.

After nearly three decades of fighting the ruthless LTTE, who have been proscribed in several countries including the USA, UK, the European Union, India and Canada, Sri Lanka is at a juncture at which the military is gaining control of all areas in the North.

The Government is fully aware of the need to look after the welfare of the civilians who are been held as human shields by the LTTE. President Mahinda Rajapakse on 29th January 2009 announced a 48 hour safe passage to the civilians to move to a safe zone, keeping in mind, the need to ensure the security and welfare of these innocent civilians. The Government remains ready to provide humanitarian facilities to the civilians if the LTTE lets the people go.

The Government has also declared a "zero civilian casualty" policy in its military operations and at all times made every effort to ensure that civilians are supplied with food, medical supplies and other humanitarian assistance in collaboration with the UN and the ICRC. It is unfortunate that the LTTE is exploiting the safe zone declared by the military to place their heavy artillery and using this zone as a launching pad, causing civilian casualties and endangering their security.

The Government wishes to reiterate its position that the military activities are aimed solely at eradicating terrorism. The Government notes the timely call by the Co-Chairs to the LTTE to lay down arms. The Government has repeatedly called on the LTTE to surrender their weapons and join the democratic process.

The President is committed to continue the political process that has already been embarked on.

- Asian Tribune -

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