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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2555

Australia opposes the establishment of an ‘'Independent Tamil State in Sri Lanka'

Colombo, 01 May, ( Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama speaking to his Australian counterpart the Stephen Smith, on Thursday, appreciated the continuous interest expressed by Australia on the current development in Sri Lanka. He stated that the close dialogue and engagement between the two countries in this manner was an encouragement to Sri Lanka’s efforts. Minister thanked the Australian Government for pledging Aus. $. 4.5 million in humanitarian assistance for the urgent need of civilians displaced in the North.

Further, Minister Rohitha Bogollagama welcomed the constant stand taken by the Australian Government against the establishment of an Independent Tamil State. Minister Bogollagama appreciated Minister Smith reiterating this position in his recent interview to the media. He also thanked Minister Smith for his appeal made earlier to the Sri Lankan Tamil expatriates living in Australia to urge the LTTE to renounce violence and to lay down arms.

While thanking Minister Bogollagama for initiating the call, Minister Smith stated that he closely fllow the situation in Sri Lanka and noted reports of the recent visit by French Foreign Minister Dr. Bernard Kouchner and the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband to Sri Lanka. He further stated that the Government of Sri Lanka is winning the war, yet the political settlement is necessary to address the grievances of the Tamil community urging for a political dialogue and reconciliation.

Foreign Minister Bogollagama briefing on the current developments in Sri Lanka stated that the All Party Representatives Committee (APRC) has appealed to the opposition parties which are not in the APRC to participate in the deliberations urgently. He informed Minister Smith that the main opposition party too has conveyed that they would submit their proposals to the Parliament.

Referring to the ‘Indo-Lanka Accord’, Minister Bogollagama informed his Australian counterpart that the Government has given its utmost priority for the implementation of its provisions. Further, Minister Bogollagama said the Government is planning to hold the Local Government elections in Jaffna in the near future. Minister also gave a detail account of the meetings he had with French Foreign Minister as well as the British Foreign Secretary.

Referring to the facilities provided to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the welfare centres Minister Bogollagama stated that the Government is aiming to resettle them before the end of this year. He commended the efforts of the ICRC and UNHCR assistance rendered to the Government. He conveyed to Minister Smith of the urgent need of the ambulances for the use of welfare centres in order to transfer patients to hospitals outside the IDP camps whereby Minister Smith agreed to explore the possibility of providing them under the development assistance programme.

Foreign Minister Smith while appreciating the confidence shown in sharing the information stated that a large number of Sri Lankan Tamil expatriates in Australia have expressed their concerns of the civilians held by the LTTE and on going terrorist tactics confining them to a smaller area. Minister Bogollagama maintained the position that there were sufficient food and essential items available for the IDPs.

Referring to the interest shown by the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship of Australia to contact Minister Bogollagama during the recently held Bali Process Meeting, Minister inquired as to the proposed high level visit to Sri Lanka to discuss on the human smuggling activities. Minister Smith stated that the increase of arrival of boats from Sri Lanka and bearing on the human trafficking is a great concern to the Australians. He conveyed Minister Bogollagama that a high level delegation would be sent to Sri Lanka to enhance bilateral cooperation to curb illegal human trafficking.

Both Ministers agreed to continue with their dialogue in future.

- Asian Tribune -

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