EU commissioner hopeful of LTTE, GoSL joint mechanism for aid delivery

[TamilNet, Monday, 07 March 2005, 18:04 GMT]
The European union's commissioner for external relations Ms Benita Ferrero-Waldner met the Srilankan President Chandrika kumaratunga Monday and said "she hopes...that the Government would soon evolve a joint mechanism to ensure the equitable distribution of aid to all affected areas," in a press release issued in Colombo.

Ms Benita Ferrero-WaldnerFull text of the press release follows:

The European Union's Commissioner for External Relations Ms. Benita Ferrero-Waldner was at President's House this afternoon. She expressed her commiserations to President Chandrika Kumaratunga on the recent natural disaster. She said her previous visit to Sri Lanka 20 years ago was a pleasant experience. She said the EU has allotted 300 million to assist the countries affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami of which 100 million has been set-aside for Sri Lanka's humanitarian and rebuilding needs.

The President thanked Ms. Ferrero-Waldner for her concern and said the EU was one of the first international bodies to come forward to assist Sri Lanka in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. She also mentioned India, Japan and China as the three nations whose effective assistance came almost immediately after the catastrophe.

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, a former Austrian Foreign Minister said, she hopes humanitarian assistance flowing into Sri Lanka would reach the needy and that the Government would soon evolve a joint mechanism to ensure the equitable distribution of aid to all affected areas. She was optimistic that the planned joint mechanism with the LTTE to rebuild the lives of the victims in the North and East would enhance the prospects of recommencing direct negotiations and building confidence among the people concerned. President Kumaratunga said the LTTE has been co-operative in several ways in addressing the needs of the tsunami affected in that part of the country.

The President briefed her on the current moves to establish a negotiated and lasting settlement to the conflict within the framework of Oslo Declaration. The President said she was confident such negotiations could commence sooner rather than later. However she said certain contentious issues needed to be ironed out.

President Kumaratunga urged European Union to impress upon the LTTE the importance of returning to the table for direct talks without procrastination.

Associated with the President were W. J. S. Karunaratne, Secretary to the President, Foreign Secretary H. M. G. S. Palihakkara and the SG of the Peace Secretariat Jayantha Dhanapala.


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