Australian FM hopes LTTE will re-engage in peace process
Visiting Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on Monday hoped that LTTE would re-engage constructively in the peace process and the Tokyo conference.
"The peace negotiators deserve our admiration and congratulations for the progress they have achieved in just six rounds of talks towards establishing a common understanding. The decision of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to suspend participation in the peace process and withdraw from the planned donor conference in Tokyo in June is highly regrettable," he said.
Australian Foreign Minister Downer met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday and had discussions about the peace process and the devastation caused by the recent floods, the Australian Embassy in Colombo said.
The Australian government had provided UNICEF with 400,000 dollars to help rebuilding basic social services, including schools, in communities affected by the floods. The Australian government had earlier contributed 100,000 dollars to the Sri Lanka Red Cross for immediate flood relief.
A statement of the Australian Foreign Ministry said that the Australian government would provide additional funding of 4.6 million dollars for rehabilitation and peace building activities over the next two years.
The statement further said:
The $ 4.6 million in additional funding forms part of a substantial increase in Australian aid to Sri Lanka. Total Australian assistance to "Sri Lanka is expected to reach $ 16.2 million in 2003-2004 an eight per cent increase on the expected outcome for 2002-2003.
The new funding package will be implemented by NGOs and multilateral organisations under the Sri Lanka-Australia Community Rehabilitation Programme. Since 1997, this programme has provided significant assistance to communities affected by the conflict in Sri Lanka.
The programme is currently making an important contribution in de-mining and the rehabilitation of former child soldiers. New projects will provide access to clean water, health care, housing and education including vocational training. Rural development and other income-generating activities will also be a focus.
The Sri Lanka-Australia Community Rehabilitation Programme reflects the humanitarian priorities that have been identified during the peace negotiations and will benefit all Sri Lankan communities."
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