Seize chance for peace, Britain urges Sri Lanka

May 20th, 2009 - 12:51 am ICT by IANS  

London, May 19 (DPA) Sri Lanka has an “historic opportunity” to build a lasting peace after defeating the rebel Tamil Tigers but first it must tackle a grave humanitarian crisis, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Tuesday.
He called for aid agencies to be allowed full access to camps for civilians displaced by the conflict and said Sri Lanka’s government had to be “magnanimous in victory”.

Miliband rejected accusations that Britain - the former colonial power - supported the rebels, known formally as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

In a written statement to parliament, Miliband said: “Our concern has never been whether it was right to defeat the LTTE. The issue has been the price in lives and the future in terms of reconciliation.”

Britain’s primary concern remained the immediate humanitarian crisis and the long-term political and economic peace and stability of Sri Lanka, said Miliband in his statement.

“We may never know exact numbers but thousands of innocent civilians have died, hundreds of thousands made homeless and confined to camps, caught up in a system which continues to restrict access to the international humanitarian agencies. For many, many people, the misery continues,” he said.

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