2ND LEAD

US presses GoSL, LTTE on CFA

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 04:28 GMT]
In the United States’ first reaction to the LTTE’s declaration Monday that successive Sinhala regimes’ intransigence in resolving Sri Lanka conflict has compelled Tamils no option but to seek an independent state, a State Department spokesman on Tuesday called on both sides to honour the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), describing it as the “foundation” for the finding peace, and also called for a return to dialogue.

Having said at the outset of the wide ranging State Department press conference that were no formal statements, when Mr. McCormack was asked about Sri Lanka by journalists, he read from a prepared text he had with him:

“The 2002 ceasefire agreement is the foundation on which both the Government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers can find mutual understanding and build sustainable peace.

“We condemn the Tamil Tigers for fueling violence and hostility. Violence and terrorism do nothing to advance the resolution of the conflict.

“And we're pressing both sides - the government as well as the Tigers - to honor the ceasefire agreement and return to a dialogue that will move the nation toward peace.

“The Tigers can choose to return to the peace process and should do so for the benefit of the Sri Lankan people.”

Asked then if the US planned any diplomatic initiative on Sri Lanka, Mr. McCormack said “we're working within the Contact Group process, the monitoring group … We have recently hosted a meeting of the co-chairs of the Tokyo's Donors Conference to help find a durable solution, so that's really the mechanism through which we work to try to move the process forward.”

Asked if Sri Lanka had risen to the level of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice or Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher, Mr. McCormack said: “No, this is actually something Nick Burns is deeply involved in. He regularly updates the Secretary on it so she does follow it.”

“And certainly if she needs to intervene with phone calls or anything else she'll do what she can, but this is really something Nick on a day-to-day basis follows,” he said.

Asked further by reporters, Mr. McCormack said Ms. Rice and Mr. Boucher had not made any calls in this regard, but would check to see if Mr. Burns had.


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