Japan seeks Tiger return to talks to clear foreign aid flow
COLOMBO, Sept 14 Japan Sunday asked Sri Lankas Tamil Tiger rebels to return to peace talks if they were interested in speeding up international aid delivery to the islands embattled regions.
Japans top peace envoy to Sri Lanka, Yasushi Akashi, who held talks with Tiger leaders in the rebel-held north Sunday told them that foreign aid was closely linked to progress in the Norwegian-brokered peace process.
"This link will continue to be a subject of great interest to the international community," Akashi told reporters at the northern town of Kilinochchi, 330 kilometres (206 miles) north of here.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are boycotting peace talks since April 21 after accusing the Colombo government of going back on promises made at six rounds of face-to-face talks since September last year.
The LTTE has since insisted that they should be given political power in an interim arrangement to run the administration in embattled regions in exchange for reopening negotiations.
The LTTEs political wing leader, S.P. Thamilselvan, said they could not accept words and promises of the Colombo administration and wanted concrete action before resuming peace negotiations.
"Only and unless there is an interim administration can the expectations of the donor community be fulfilled," Thamilselvan said.
Akashi discussed with the LTTE the question of resuming Norwegian-brokered peace talks with the Colombo government and speeding up rehabilitation work, diplomatic sources said.
On Friday, Akashi said the international community was frustrated with the current impasse in the peace process and wanted the rebels to end their boycott of negotiations.
However, he said international aid donors were still committed to spending the promised 4.5 billion dollars to rebuild Sri Lanka despite the setbacks to the fragile peace process.
Akashi staged an aid-pledging conference in Japan in June to drum up foreign support to rebuild Sri Lanka and help boost prospects of peacefully ending the conflict which has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972.
"It will be good if they could resume the peace process soon," Akashi said Friday.
Tamil Tigers have complained that there has been no rehabilitation work in the embattled northern and eastern regions despite a ceasefire that has been in place since 23 February, 2002.
Akashi said he could understand the frustrations of the Tigers, but expected them to return to the negotiating process and take part in future aid talks to speed up aid delivery to embattled regions. (AFP)
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