Monday, December 15, 2008

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka's FM claims LTTE using human shields

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said that reports of a scarcity of food and essential items in the Wanni are far from true.

On the contrary, despite prevailing adverse weather conditions and obstacles placed by the LTTE, the Government has ensured that there is an uninterrupted supply of food and basic necessities to the civilians in the un-cleared areas of the Wanni, who are caught up in the current conflict.

The Minister made these observations during a meeting with the Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance of Australia and the Alternate Head of the Australian delegation Bob McMullan on the fringes of the Bali Democracy Forum in Bali, Indonesia last Thursday.

Responding to a query from the Australian Minister, the Foreign Minister said that the Government has a well organised distribution network administered by the Government Agents of Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu to ensure that the food and humanitarian aid that the Government sends to the North actually reaches the displaced civilians.

He charged that the LTTE is holding civilians as a human shield and preventing them from coming to Vavuniya, where the Government has made elaborate arrangements to receive them and provide food, shelter and other facilities. He emphasized the importance of the international community to exert its pressure on the LTTE to allow the civilians to leave conflict zone to safer areas under Government control.

He further stated that the Security Forces are on course to neutralise the military threat of the LTTE in the North and that the Government is keen to restore civil administration and democracy to these areas, so that the people who had been deprived of basic freedoms, due to the reign of terror imposed by the LTTE, can once again enjoy the fruits of democracy.

The Minister expressed his appreciation to Minister McMullan for the development assistance that Australia has provided to Sri Lanka over the years and in particular, the recent enhancement of the quantum of aid which has greatly helped the Government's efforts for the uplift of the socially and economically disadvantaged sections of the people of Sri Lanka.

The Australian Minister thanked Minister Bogollagama for the comprehensive briefing on the situation in Sri Lanka and stated that Australia looks forward to a closer engagement with Sri Lanka in a number of areas of cooperation, including the expansion of bilateral trade and investment, as well as development cooperation.

He also said that Australia is keen to develop links with SAARC, in her capacity as an Observer. Minister Bogollagama welcoming this idea, informed Minister McMullan that SAARC under Sri Lankas Chair is presently working out modalities for SAARC Observers to play a more active and meaningful role within SAARC, especially for the economic and social advancement of the peoples of the region.

The Minister held bilateral talks with the Foreign Minister of Singapore, George Yeo, Head of the Japanese delegation and Special Envoy of the Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister of Japan, Masahiko Koumura and the Head of the Chinese delegation and President of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs Yang Wenchang, during which he discussed a range of issues of bilateral, regional and international interest with the respective delegations.

Minister Bogollagama also held informal discussions with the Malaysian Foreign Minister Dr. Dato Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim and Secretary of Foreign Affairs (Foreign Minister) of the Philippines Alberto Romulo during the Bali Democracy Forum.

Source: Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order - Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Courtesy - Daily News
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