US asks Colombo to engage Tamils for lasting peace

March 14th, 2009 - 11:43 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 14 (IANS) Expressing “deep concern” over the deteriorating conditions in the “safe zone” in northern Sri Lanka, the US has asked Colombo to engage peaceful Tamils to develop power sharing arrangements to achieve lasting peace and reconciliation.

“The United States believes that a durable and lasting peace will only be achieved through a political solution that addresses the legitimate aspirations of all of Sri Lanka’s communities,” State Department Spokesman Gordon Duguid stated Friday.

“We call on the Sri Lankan Government to put forward a proposal now to engage Tamils who do not espouse violence or terrorism, and to develop power sharing arrangements so that lasting peace and reconciliation can be achieved.”

The statement followed a call earlier Friday by Secretary Hillary Clinton to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa asking him “to devise a political solution to the ongoing conflict.”

She urged the president to give international humanitarian relief organizations full access to the conflict area and displaced persons camps, including screening centres, the spokesman said.

Clinton also expressed the United States’ deep concern over the deteriorating conditions and increasing loss of life occurring in the Government of Sri Lanka-designated “safe zone” in northern Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan Army should not fire into the civilian areas of the conflict zone, she said offering “immediate and post-conflict reconstruction assistance.”

Clinton also extended condolences to the victims of the March 10 bombing outside a mosque in southern Sri Lanka and condemned the actions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who are reported to be holding civilians as human shields, and to have shot at civilians leaving LTTE areas of control.

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