US warns of "negative effect on Peace Process"

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 05 November 2003, 12:50 GMT]
U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli expressed concern that President Kumaratunga’s decision to sack three government ministers, suspend parliament, and deploy troops around the capital “could have a negative effect on the peace process and talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam,” the Office of Public Diplomacy, Embassy of United States of America in Colombo said in a press release issued Wednesday.

The full text of the press release follows:

Speaking at a November 4 State Department briefing, Ereli urged President Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is currently on a visit to Washington, to work together to bolster the peace process with the LTTE and to protect the Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions.

“Sri Lanka is a democratic country,” said Ereli, and “multi-party democracy involves, as the name implies, public officials of different parties working together for the common interest. And we would certainly hope that that spirit informs the decisions and actions of the country’s officials,” he said.

Following is an excerpt from the November 4 State Department briefing:

QUESTION: Do you have any comment to make about the Sri Lankan President’s decision to sack three ministers, suspend parliament and deploy troops to various key installations?

MR. ERELI: We are following developments in Sri Lanka closely. We urge the President and Prime Minister to work together to bolster the peace process and to protect Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions. We are concerned that these events could have a negative effect on the peace process and talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, and we stand firmly behind the Government of Sri Lanka in its search for peace after 20 years of bloody conflict.

QUESTION: I think, as you are well aware, Secretary Armitage met with Mr. Wickremesinghe yesterday. Do you know if he had any -- Wickremesinghe had any sense that this might be in the offing, and if it came up in that conversation?

And, secondly, do you know if the Prime Minister is going to continue his Washington schedule and meet with the President tomorrow?

MR. ERELI: I’m not aware that the actions of the President, which took place subsequent to the meeting with Deputy Secretary Armitage, came up in the meeting with Deputy Secretary Armitage. I’m not aware that they did. I’m not aware that there was any foreknowledge that the events would take place.

As far as the rest of the schedule for the Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, he has said that he intends to continue with his official schedule in Washington, and we welcome that news.

QUESTION: Yes, just one follow-up. How do you think they’re going to be able to work together, given that they are longstanding rivals and that the President appears to have taken these rather dramatic actions without consulting her Prime Minister?

MR. ERELI: I would note that, you know, Sri Lanka is a democratic country that -- multiparty democracy involves, as the name implies, public officials of different parties working together for the common interest, and we would certainly hope that that spirit informs the decisions and actions of the country’s officials.

 

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