U.S., Japan, EU and Norway express alarm at recent violence in Sri Lanka
Tue November 21, 2006 18:01 EST .
FOSTER KLUG - Associated Press Writer - WASHINGTON (AP) The international overseers of Sri Lanka - 's fragile peace process voiced alarm and impatience Tuesday over a recent spike in bloodshed on the island, warning warring parties that they risk future financial aid if they do not abandon violence. ``There is simply no way that the international community can impose peace in Sri Lanka - . It must be homegrown'' by the Tamil Tiger rebels and the government, Norwegian Aid Minister Erik Solheim told reporters after the meeting. ``Then we can all assist them.''
He said officials were ``very much impatient'' with cease-fire violations.
Japanese peace envoy Yasushi Akashi said that ``the great of bulk'' of $4.5 billion (euro3.5 billion) in reconstruction and development pledges made at a June 2003 Tokyo meeting has been paid.
But he said monitors were determined to establish a ``close linkage between the peace process and the assistance process. The more progress there is on the peace front, I'm sure that all the governments and organizations which made original pledges are prepared to be even more generous.
``But what has been happening lately has been rather negative to the hoped-for consequences,'' Akashi said.
Since last December, air strikes, mine attacks, assassinations and regular exchanges of heavy arms fire have killed more than 3,200 fighters and civilians. Both sides insist they have not withdrawn from the truce.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns noted that the United States is not a neutral observer: it believes the Tigers are a terror organization responsible for innocent deaths, and the government has a right to maintain its territorial integrity.
The EU and Sri Lanka - join the United States in designating the Tigers, also called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a terrorist organization. The Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for a separate homeland for the country's 3.2 million ethnic minority Tamils, accusing the majority Sinhalese of discrimination.
``We ask the government to redouble its efforts'' at working for peace, Burns said.
The United States views the Tigers as ``greatly responsible'' for recent bloodshed, he said. Still, ``it takes both sides to agree to peace. It has been both sides that have caused the violence over the last several months.
``And so any situation like this, it's incumbent upon us to use the influence that we have to try to move both of them, influence both of them to move toward peace.''
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Published: Tue Nov 21 20:47:29 EST 2006