Kadir-Armitage Pow-wow Washington tells LTTE to give up arms
Bandula Jayasekara in Colombo,
WT 2.40 P.M Friday 14 May.
by Bandula Jayasekara in Washington DC- United States Deputy Secretary of
State, Richard Armitage said here on Wednesday that the United States will
not remove the LTTE from their list of terror groups until the LTTE gives up
arms forever and unless they do so they will not have any chance of having a
relationship with the United States.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Foreign Minister Lakshman
Kadiragamar at the State Department, Armitage said the US had never
supported the LTTE in any way and not given aid to the LTTE at any time and
the aid given to the people in the north/east of Sri Lanka have been
channeled through the NGO and other organizations.
Speaking on the recruitment of child soldiers by the LTTE, Armitage said it
was a big tragedy to recruit child soldiers and there should be a clear
stand on the issue. He said "Young girls and boys have been permanently
damaged by these acts. The LTTE should change its behavior not only in word
but in deed," he said.
Asked by The Island, Deputy Secretary Armitage agreed that the Western media
had made an issue out of the JVP and the party’s gain in Sri Lankan
politics. He said that the JVP being a partner of the present government
shows that it was the aspirations of the people of Sri Lanka and it must be
respected. The Senior US official also said the greatest resource Sri Lanka
had was its people. Armitage also congratulated President Kumaratunga on her
party’s election victory. He said the US was happy that the election was
free and fair and that the peace process would resume soon.
Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadiragamar thanked the United States for its
continued support for Sri Lanka. He said "It is very important to us. The US
has always taken a very principled stand with regard to Sri Lanka.
Kadiragamar also said that it was time for the government and the LTTE to
lock horns and have hard headed negotiations to see an end to the problem in
the country. The Foreign Minister said "Lets finish it now. It is time for
Sri Lanka to enjoy the benefits of peace"
Later in the evening, responding to questions from the audience after a
public speaking engagement at the Brooking Institution and John Hopkins
University in Washington, the Foreign Minister said that nobody wants a
separate state and something less than that would be welcome. He said it
would be difficult to give a time frame where a solution could be found to
the conflict in the country. When questioned if Kadiragamar’s involvement in
the peace process may become an impediment, the minister said "I am fully
aware that the LTTE would like to see me dead. I did what I did for the
country since it was the best at the time. But, if I am an impediment for
the peace process. I will stand down. I wouldn’t bother about it at all."
Clarifying the issue of the sole representative, the minister said that the
LTTE will be the sole representative at the negotiating table only and that
was all. Foreign Minister also said that there cannot be a visible solution
to the Sri Lankan problem without the support of India.
Published: Fri May 14 14:41:36 EDT 2004