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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2613

International Community needs to tell its exact role on Sri Lanka crisis: Cabraal says in Washington

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent for Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 20 May, ( Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapakse’s economic adviser and the Secretary of the country’s Ministry of Plan Implementation Ajith Nivard Cabraal told a distinguish and representative gathering here that it is important that the international community seek to specify its role, avoid trying to balance their comments which becomes quite irritating to the victims and seek to understand the completely different framework within which the Government and the LTTE operate.

He reminded his Washington audience that the ‘Aid for peace at any cost’ and ‘Aid for economic reform’ approaches are viewed suspiciously and that trade and investment instead of aid is bound to be a lot more popular and sustainable.

He cautioned against the international community taking positions on the constitutional and political formulas of a political settlement and said such issues are best left to the body politics of the nation.

Cabraal made these forthright statements, never before made by any visitor from Sri Lanka of any rank in recent times, when he addressed United States policy makers at the launch of the study “Aid, Conflict, and Peace-building in Sri Lanka 2000-2005” funded by the Asia Foundation and the World Bank this week at the St. Gregory Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Others, who listened to his almost blunt observations were United States Ambassador in Sri Lanka Jeffrey Lunstead, whose USAID office in Colombo held nation-wide seminars on federalism and its merits early this year, Norwegian Chief Negotiator Jon Hansen Bauer, whose Monitoring Office in Sri Lanka often issues ‘balanced’ statements on ceasefire violations walking on a very thin line, Prof. G.L. Peiris, an architect of previously failed constitutional settlements who often succumbed to international pressure on devolution of power to the Tamil-majority north and east of the country ignoring the sentiments of the rest of the nation and Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, Member of Parliament of Tamil National Alliance which often tows the political line of the separatist Tamil Tigers.

However, Mr. Cabraal made reference to his government’s willingness to discuss all issues relating to a devolved system of governance in the Tamil-dominated North of the country, which most of the territory is controlled by the separatist Tamil Tigers, and East, whose Tamil population is half and the rest divided between the Sinhalese and Muslims, but according to the script made available to Asian Tribune, does not discuss devolution to the rest of the country which is predominantly Sinhalese, the majority ethnic group in Sri Lanka.

Apart from an atmosphere of non-violence, Sri Lanka president’s special envoy, who met senior State Department officials and leading congressmen during his stay in Washington, reminded his distinguish audience the resolution of the conflict should give special emphasis to the issues human rights and the restoration of democracy and rule of law in the Tamil majority areas in the north and east that are under the control of the Liberation Tigers.

Addressing the concerns of the international community about his government’s alleged support to LTTE dissidents such as the Karuna Group, Cabraal categorically said that Karuna is a LTTE dissident and not a paramilitary of the Government, and that Karuna is not the first LTTE dissident neither will be the last reminding his audience that according to credible reports there are several cracks surfacing in the LTTE’s monolithic structure.

He then posed a question to the international community: “Should the disarming and/or eliminating of every LTTE dissident – past, present and future be the responsibility of the Government”?

Ajith Nivard Cabraal noted that it must be remembered that Sri Lanka has a lot happening other than just aid and conflict. An ambitious development program is being vigorously implemented. Such programs will reduce poverty and usher in sustainable development. The commitment to the effort to end the conflict and build a sustainable peace is of highest priority of the President and his government, he emphasized.

- Asian Tribune -

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