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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 110

Sri Lanka President tells Vatican: Committed to peace and human rights - LTTE blocking passage to Madhu

Vatican city, 22 April, ( The Sri Lankan Government is committed to a negotiated solution to the conflict in the country as means of achieving peace and to the upholding of human rights, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told Cardinal Tarcisco Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, at the meeting after his audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Friday.

The President emphasized that he did not believe in a military solution to Sri Lanka’s conflict and was always open to negotiations. He explained that it was the LTTE that had consistently walked away from negotiations, including the talks held after his election in November 2005.

Responding to Vatican concerns about human rights and humanitarian issues President Rajapaksa reiterated that the Government’s firm commitment to safeguard human rights and also explained the many humanitarian steps taken by the Government to ease the problems faced by the Tamil people in the North and East. Particular reference was made to the supply of food, medicine and other essential goods to Jaffna when the LTTE had acted to create shortages and hardships to the people by ordering the closure of wholesale and retail trade establishments in Jaffna late last year.

In the friendly and cordial exchange of views between President Rajapaksa and Cardinal Tarcisco Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, the President said the Government did not believe in any military solution top the issue, and that whatever military action being taken by the Government was meant to contain the threat posed by terrorism.

President Rajapaksa also said the All Party Representative Conference was deliberating on proposals for a negotiated settlement and that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which he heads, will shortly present its own proposals to the APRC on the sharing of power in the country.

Madhu access blocked

In response to a request by Cardinal Bertone, that facilities e allowed for pilgrims to have easy access to the Madhu Church, President Rajapaksa said he was eager to provide such facilities, but was faced with the fact of the Madhu Church being located in an area under the control of the LTTE. President Rajapaksa explained that as Prime Minister he too had wanted to visit the Madhu Church, but the LTTE had objected to his coming there with his official security. Eventually, he had not gone to the Madhu Church in a situation where he was refused his security personnel.

He told Cardinal Bertone the Government would make endeavor to facilitate the visit of Catholic devotees to the Madhu Church.

A statement by the Vatican following the President’s audience with Pope and meeting with the Vatican Secretary of State said: “The Catholic Church, which offers a significant contribution to the life of the country, will intensify the delicate commitment to form consciences, with the sole aim of favoring the common good, reconciliation and peace.”

- Asian Tribune -

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