UN, US, EU hail Thailand talks

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 17 September 2002, 09:57 GMT]
On the eve of the first peace talks between the Liberation Tigers and the Sri Lankan government, the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan welcomed the negotiations, saying the United Nations might play a bigger part in the peace process. Meanwhile, the US, welcoming the negotiations, said it would review its ban on the LTTE depending on the progress of the talks.

Mr. Annan hoped that "these talks will lead to a political settlement of the internal conflict in Sri Lanka which will preserve the country's unity and integrity as well as take account of the needs of and interests of all its communities," UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

Mr. Annan was "pleased that the two sides have successfully implemented the provisions of their ceasefire signed last February and are now entering substantive talks."

Mr. Annan paid tribute to Norway for facilitating the talk between government officials and representatives of the rebel LTTE, which were being held at Sattahip in Thailand. "At the same time, he looks forward to enhancing the UN role in support of the peace process, especially regarding peace-building activities," Eckhard said.

Mr. Annan’s welcome come in the wake of strong support for the talks from the United States which Friday reiterated its encouragement of negotiations to end Sri Lanka’s protracted conflict.

The US will review its ban on the LTTE depending on the outcome of peace talks, the US ambassador to Thailand was quoted by AFP as saying.

"We will discuss that [de-proscription] in the context of the outcome of the peace talks," Ambassador Darryl Johnson said after the official launch of the talks Monday. "A process has begun and we hope it will succeed."

Earlier, the US embassy in Colombo said Washington “welcomes the intention of the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE to hold talks in Thailand.”

“We are hopeful that the talks will lead to a permanent end to the conflict based on the principles of democracy and respect for human rights, while maintaining Sri Lanka’s territorial integrity,” the US embassy said in a statement.

“Although the talks are bound to be complex and will take time, we sense that the conditions are favourable for a desirable outcome,” the US statement said. “We salute the Norwegian government’s facilitation of the talks and the Thai government for hosting them. We also note the important and ongoing work of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in tracking adherence to the February ceasefire accord.”

Also Friday, the EU expressed support Friday for talks and pledged financial aid to the peace process, AFP reported.

"The additional community funding is in recognition of the parties' commitment to the ceasefire agreement," the European Commission said, announcing initial aid worth 1.8 million euros. The commission has also “started the process to mobilize four million euros” in particular to rebuild a railroad, to help displaced people return home and to fund a mine survey.


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