American Ambassador writes to ‘The Island’
US stand on LTTE as terrorist organisation re-iterated

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US Ambassador Mr. Ashley Wills

The following is the text of US Ambassador Mr. Ashley Wills to the Editor of ‘The Island’;

I read the editorial in the March 7 edition of ‘The Island’ with great interest.

I agree with ‘The Island’ that there are reasons for caution in arriving at any agreement with the LTTE. It would not be proper for me to speak for the Government of Sri Lanka, which I believe also understands the need for caution, but you can be sure that the Government of the United States is fully aware of the history of the LTTE. I think that ‘The Island’ is right to remind its readers of the risks inherent in any peace process. There are no guarantees of success, no matter what strategy is chosen.

It is because of the LTTE’s past actions that the United States was the first Western country to put the LTTE on its Foreign Terrorist Organizations List and has included it to the list of terrorist organizations established by President Bush after the attacks of September 11. These actions make illegal any fund-raising activities by the LTTE in the United States.

The United States has also lent considerable support to the Sri Lankan Government during this civil conflict, including the training of Sri Lankan military units, the donation of military trucks as well as the sale of certain other equipment and the establishment of training opportunities in the United States for selected Sri Lankan military officers.

‘The Island’ is aware of the many speeches I have given in which I have underline that the United States regards the LTTE as a terrorist organization and that the United States does not support the establishment of a Tamil Eelam. ‘The Island’ gave considerable coverage to a speech last year in which I expressed this position very strongly to a large audience in the city of Jaffna. We will also be issuing a statement shortly (but drafted long before the Island’s editorial!) reiterating our views.

In regard to the position of the United States in each of the countries mentioned in ‘The Island’s editorial, I want to make clear that the United States has taken action in support of the policy of the governments of those countries. In the case of Sri Lanka, the government, whether under PA or UNF control, has pursued a policy of peace through negotiation. The United States believes that this policy is wise and thus we continue to support it.

The United States knows of the terrible cost that this war has imposed on Sri Lanka and its people, and that most Sri Lankans want the war to end. We understand that the achievement of peace will not come easily. There will be obstacles and setbacks along the way. We understand, though, that a just and lasting peace for all the people of this island is worth the risk of trying to negotiate with the LTTE.

I salute ‘The Island’ for its continued and eloquently expressed concerns on this vital issue.