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 Post subject: Seriously concerned of LTTE air capability - US
 Post Posted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 4:00 pm 
Seriously concerned of LTTE air capability - US

@ BBC Sinhala

US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice has said that the US government has taken serious note of the LTTE’s acquisition of air capability.

Spoeksman for the Sri Lankan Embassy told Sandeshaya that US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice said this on Friday when the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministet met her in Washington.

She said continued acts of violence, recruitment of child soldiers, procurement of weapons and the construction of an air field and acquisition of air capability by the LTTE were matters of serious concern,a stetement issued by the embassy said

She noted that the US was “comfortable with the progress” made by Sri Lanka in this regard and satisfied that “the reconstruction funds were being spent in an equitable manner”.

Dr. Rice said “the US Government supports Sri Lanka in its effort to evolve a Joint Mechanism” in completing the massive task at hand” and that “the US recognized and applauded Sri Lanka’s commitment to democracy.”,the statement said

Joint Mechanism

The Minister Kadirgamar emphasised that while the Joint Mechanism was not part of the peace process, the Government was conscious that its successful implementation could serve as a confidence building measure between the Government and the LTTE.

He noted that there were several sections of the Sri Lankan polity that were opposed to it. Besides the JVP and the JHU, concerns had been expressed by the Muslim community as well as several democratic Tamil groups.

He noted that unfortunately recent acts of the LTTE were not helping in the process of generating confidence among the groups that had reservations in this regard.

National Security Council

Embasssy spokesman said that the Foreign Minister also held discussions Friday afternoon with Dr. J.H. Crouch, Deputy National Security Advisor, where he reviewed in greater detail the implementation of the ceasefire and the prospects for peace.

Dr. Crouch also expressed US concern over the development of an air field and air capability by the LTTE. Given its past record, the possibility of aircrafts being used for suicide operations was discussed.

The Minister noted that this development was forcing Sri Lanka to strengthen its air defense capability and urged that the international community persuade the LTTE to dismantle its air capability in a verifiable manner.

The Minister also informed Dr. Crouch that the Sri Lanka government would be glad to respond to the US request to send a team of experts to the US to impart its expertise on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDS) and suicide attacks, to help in its global efforts against terrorism.

Dr Rice also accepted an invitation by Minister Kadirgamar to visit Sri Lanka at an early date.

TNA Response

Tamil National Alliance MP, Gajendra Kumar Ponnambalam told Sandesaya that government is drumming up the LTTE airpower issue to undermine the real issues of peace talks.

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