Japan to send its special peace envoy to Sri Lanka

January 20th, 2009 - 12:31 am ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 19 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s single largest donor, Japan is sending its special peace envoy to Colombo to “encourage a political solution to the ethnic conflict” in the country, at a time when troops were advancing into the northeastern jungle district of Mullaitivu, the last major stronghold of Tamil Tiger rebels.The Japanese embassy here said in a statement Monday its special envoy for peace-building, rehabilitation and reconstruction, Yasushi Akashi, will be undertaking a five-day visit from Wednesday.

“During his stay, Mr. Akashi will meet with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and other government officials, representatives of the ruling and the opposition political parties and encourage their work on the process towards a political solution of the ethnic conflict,” the statement said.

Akashi will also visit the eastern port city of Trincomalee and northern Vavuniya town “to observe the situation on the ground”.

Japan’s decision to send its peace envoy came a day after the visit by Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.

Menon, who returned to New Delhi Sunday morning, held talks with Rajapaksa, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and senior presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa during his two-day stay in Colombo.

He also met the leader of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) Ranil Wickremesinghe and leaders of key Muslim and Tamil parties, including the pro-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in Colombo Friday.

Coinciding with Menon’s visit, India announced the second instalment of humanitarian assistance amounting to 40 million (Sri Lankan) rupees for the war-affected Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka’s north.

The first consignment of approximately 1,700 tonnes comprising 80,000 ready-to-use family packs containing food, clothing and personal hygiene items arrived in Sri Lanka within three weeks and has already been distributed to those in need with the assistance of the ICRC and the co-operation of the government of Sri Lanka.

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