US asks LTTE to free civilians in ‘no fire zone’ (Lead)

April 9th, 2009 - 4:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 9 (IANS) Expressing concern about the plight of civilians trapped in the “no fire zone” in northern Sri Lanka, the US has asked the Tamil Tigers to release them and also urged Colombo to engage Tamils for a political solution.
The call was made by Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher and US ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake during a discussion with several US-based organisations representing members of the Tamil diaspora.

Discussing the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka, the two officials emphasised the urgent need for Colombo to engage Tamils, including diaspora communities around the world, to find a political end to the conflict, the State Department said Wednesday.

They also emphasised US concern about the plight of the civilians trapped in the “no fire zone” and called on the the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to release the civilians.

Boucher and Blake reiterated that both the Tamil Tigers and the government of Sri Lanka should stop firing into and from the no fire zone.

They outlined the steps the US has taken to support the civilians in the no fire zone.

Boucher and Blake said they would like to continue the dialogue with the diaspora community. The discussion took place at the State Department with Blake speaking via digital video from Colombo.

Their statements came as the Sri Lankan military advanced to capture the last of the land area still held by the LTTE. The fighting has left a large number of people dead, injured and homeless.

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