India, Co-Chairs backing war: Sri Lanka
[TamilNet, Friday, 23 January 2009, 16:29 GMT]
Sri Lanka said Friday its military offensive against the Tamil Tigers was supported by India and the Co-Chairs to the donor community – US, EU, Norway and Japan. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said the Co-Chairs and Sri Lanka had a common objective of a speedy solution to the conflict. Meanwhile, Japan’s special envoy Yashushi Akashi, was quoted by the Defence Ministry as “expressing satisfaction at the efforts by the Sri Lanka Government to safeguard the civilian population in the north.” Almost a hundred civilians died this week in the military’s deliberate shelling of populated areas, including a ‘safe zone’ Colombo announced.
“We are continuously briefing the US, the EU, Norway and Japan through our missions in these countries and their representatives in Colombo on the humanitarian operations in the North,” Bogollagama was quoted by the Daily Mirror as saying.
“They are keen to see the start of the flow of development aid once normalcy is restored in the North.”
‘Humanitarian operations’ is Sri Lanka’s euphemism for its massive military onslaught against the LTTE.
Mr. Bogollagama said the Sri Lankan government was never pressured either by India or the Co-chairs to halt operations as they understood the situation in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Bogollagama said the visits of Indian Foreign Secretary Shivashanker Menon last week and Japan’s special peace envoy Yashushi Akashi’s this week had taken place on a mutual understanding.
“Mr. Akashi is expected to discuss how Japan can contribute to the restoring of durable peace and democracy in the northeast once the ongoing … operations end in the area,” Mr. Bogollagana said.
The Foreign Minister said the Co-chairs and India would have to play a major role after the conclusion of the military operations in the North as Sri Lanka expected to launch an accelerated development programme in the area.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence said Japan’s Special Envoy Akashi expressed “his satisfaction at the efforts undertaken by the Sri Lanka Government to safeguard the civilian population in the north.”
Akashi “expressed his confidence in the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) as a viable mechanism through which to bring about devolution of power and to build a pluralistic Sri Lankan society,” the MoD said in a statement in its website.
He stated that Japan was fully conscious of the Sri Lanka government's commitment to finding a political solution to the conflict, and expressed the hope that the political process would continue, the MoD said.