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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2641

Richard Boucher assures Rajapaksa continued support to combat terrorism and condemns Habarana and Galle suicide attacks

By Walter Jayawardhana

Colombo, 20 October, (Asiantribune.com): The United States of America pledged her continued support to the Sri Lanka government in its mission to combat terrorism and condemned the recent LTTE suicide attacks US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher told President Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka government sources said. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa (R) talks to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs Richard Boucher at the President House in Colombo October 19, 2006. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa (R) talks to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs Richard Boucher at the President House in Colombo October 19, 2006.

The US Assistant State secretary for Central and south Asian affairs Richard Boucher made the assurance when he met President Mahinda Rajapakse in Colombo yesterday at a discussion (Thursday the 19th of October).

Ambassador Boucher said the US government holds in contempt the recent LTTE suicide attacks at the security forces in Habarana and at Dakshina Naval Base in Galle.

He also noted that the US is strongly opposed to terrorism and it would support in all aspects in the country's quest for peace.

Sri Lanka’s Peace Secretariat Head Dr. Palitha Kohona said the Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher’s trip to the island nation was intended to help Sri Lanka to have a negotiated settlement at the Geneva talks.

Ambassador Boucher arrived yesterday morning on an official visit to the Island nation on a two day visit.

Briefing on the proposed Geneva talks scheduled 28th and the 29th this month the President said the LTTE's continued violence did not help at all when the government was preparing to participate in negotiation with the outfit.

However, he said that he was committed to find a negotiated settlement to the ethic conflict.

The president expressed his hope that the international community will ensure that the LTTE would not quit the negotiation table as it did earlier, until a solution was reached.

Ambassador Boucher was also informed on the emerging southern consensus and the MOU to be signed by the president with the main opposition party, the UNP. Sri Lankan leader of the opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe,left, welcomes Richard Boucher, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs, in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006. Sri Lankan leader of the opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe,left, welcomes Richard Boucher, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs, in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006.

Government sources said, The president also briefed the Progress made in creating a framework for negotiated settlement by an all party representative committee and advisory group of experts drawn from different ethnic groups.

Kohona said Sri Lanka was all willing to go to Geneva all the time and the government was delighted that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is also willing to to travel to Switzerland for the talks scheduled on October 28 and 29 .

He said Boucher did not carry any special message from the US government but expressed his enthusiasm and assistance to Sri Lanka government’s effort to have the peace talks as scheduled.

Asked by a radio reporter whether Boucher delivered an ultimatum to the government to solve the conflict immediately Kohona said there was no ultimatum.

He said the problem has been consistent for the last 25 years and the Sri Lanka government expressed its willingness to make use of every opportunity to arrive at a negotiated settlement.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, Head of the Peace Secretariat Dr. Palitha Kohona, also participated in the discussion, with the President.

Ambassador Boucher also met Opposition leader, Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera during the course of the day. He is also to meet several other senior government officials and civil society leaders and the NGO representatives.

The US embassy Colombo says that Ambassador Boucher will hold a press conference on 20th October at 6:30 p.m. in the Palm Lounge of the Galle Face Hotel.

Boucher also met Sri Lanka Muslim leader Rauff Hakeem in a thirty minute meeting. Hakeem expressed his unhappiness for not having a separate muslim delegation at the Geneva talks. He also blamed the government for the deaths of eleven Muslims at Pottuvil recently.

Hakeem is one leader who traveled to Kilinochchi and signed a secret agreement with LTTE leader Prabhakaran but the LTTE continued to massacre Muslims. Hakeem is extremely unhappy that Mrs. Ferial Ashraff , his political enemy is included in the government delegation while he is out. In an interview after the talks with the BBC’s Sandeshaya he said under existing circumstances it was doubtful whether the peace talks would be able to achieve its goal. While he was a member of the Ranil Wickremesinghe government Prabhakaran his former colleague was extremely angry over his suggestion that a separate Muslim delegation should be included at the peace talks between the government and the LTTE. He is also angry that the Special Task Force was clashing with illicit timber merchants clearing government jungles as those timber merchants were allegedly supporters of his political party at Pottuvil.

Meanwhile Japanese peace envoy Yasusi Akashi has been meeting civil leaders of the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communities to collect data about grievance of the people in the aftermath of the arising out of the refugee situation following LTTE’s Muttur invasion. Representatives told him that they should be provided with more medical facilities and employment opportunities.

- Asian Tribune -

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