LTTE not invited for ‘support Lanka’ meeting in US

by Shamindra Ferdinando
The US Embassy yesterday said that the LTTE will not be invited for a meeting scheduled to take place in Washington DC on April 14 to discuss ways and means of reaching a consensus on financial support for Sri Lanka. It will be presided over by US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. It takes place before Japan hosts a conference on reconstruction and development in Tokyo in mid-June.

In response to a query, U.S. Ambassador E. Ashley Wills yesterday told The Island : "We have never had in mind inviting the LTTE or any of its associated organisations to the Washington meeting on April 14. Under US law, it is not possible for us to play host to an organisation on our list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTOs)."

"The U.S. listing of the LTTE as a FTO will remain in effect until the group renounces terrorism in word and deed."

Earlier there was intense speculation about the US inviting the LTTE to Washington despite it being among the FTO groups including Al-Queda.

The U. S. stance paved the way for India’s participation at the meeting, diplomatic sources said. India was among about 30 countries expected to take part in the meeting. India insists that its representatives will not sit with Tigers. "India’s position remains the same," the sources said, reminding that India boycotted an earlier international parley in Oslo and an UNHCR-organised meeting in Kilinochchi.

Top representatives of international lending agencies and humanitarian groups too would be present. Diplomatic sources said that India would not sit with Tigers.

But the LTTE will attend the Tokyo parley, the sources said.

Referring to the recent sinking of an LTTE-owned tanker off Mullaitivu, the US recently urged the group to stop smuggling weapons. The incident almost scuttled the last session of negotiations in Hakone, Japan.

The World Bank recently set up a North-East Reconstruction Fund (NERF) to enable the international community to channel financial assistance to reconstruct and develop the North-East.