US encouraged by Hakone talks

Colombo, March 25 — The United States has taken note of the talks between the Sri Lanan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) held in Hakone, during Japan, March 18-21.

We are encouraged by the substantive and comprehensive nature of the talks, which focused on such issues as federalism and human rights. Most importantly, we welcome the discussions on ways to improve ceasefire modalities. We hope that these discussions will lead to a cessation of efforts by the LTTE to smuggle arms into Sri Lanka and prevent confrontations such as the one that took place off the northeast coast on March 10.

It is positive that the two sides have agreed to meet again in April/May, in June and in July. We salute the Norwegian government for facilitating the talks and the Japanese government for hosting them.

Regarding the March 20 incident, in which the LTTE reportedly attacked and sank a Chinese fishing boat, we note that information is still very sketchy. We support a complete and immediate investigation into the incident. Of course, we deplore the loss of life and hope that the missed will soon be found.