Global pressure mounts on Sri Lanka to return to cease-fire+
Sat January 12, 2008 10:22 EST .
COLOMBO, Jan. 12 (Kyodo) _ An influential group of global powers including Japan on Saturday jointly expressed ''strong concerns'' about the Sri Lankan government's decision to withdraw from the cease-fire agreement with the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.
Norway, Japan, the United States and the European Union, grouped together as the so-called ''Tokyo Co-Chairs,'' also said they support Norway's continuing role as ''facilitator'' of the peace process.
On Jan. 3, the Sri Lankan government gave Norway two weeks notice of withdrawing from the CFA with effect from Wednesday.
The CFA, which existed only on paper with escalation of fighting between government forces and rebels in recent months, had a provision for either party to withdraw from it with two weeks notice.
Diplomats noted that the Tokyo Co-Chairs, representing the donor countries that met in Tokyo in 2003, had pledged massive support for rebuilding Sri Lanka's war-torn areas and reviving the economy but the country had not been able to take full advantage of this due to continued fighting.
The donor group pledged $4.5 billion over three and a half years linked to progress of the peace process.
''The Co-Chairs emphasize their belief that there is no military solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka, and reiterate their support for a negotiated settlement,'' the statement said.
It also expressed ''deep concern'' about the human rights situation and protection of civilians in Sri Lanka and called for an ''appropriate role'' for the United Nations in this regard.
They urged the Sri Lankan government to ''finalize a politically sustainable devolution plan,'' as the government prepared to launch a massive military push against the rebels in the northern Wanni district under its control.Discuss this story
Published: Sat Jan 12 13:30:49 EST 2008