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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 109

Boucher sees no military solution for Sri Lanka

Oslo, 28 June, (Asiantribune.com): In an interview with Dagsavisen, a Norwegian newspaper, Richard A, Boucher, US Assistant Secretary, for South and Central Asian Affairs, said that banning the LTTE is not only necessary but also crucial. He stated this in reply to a question: "Norway has not listed LTTE as a terrorist organization, but the USA has, and we asked Boucher if this is required to find a solution."

Boucher also said that USA is working on a power-sharing formula and he is optimistic. But Erik Solheim, the chief peace facilitator, told TV2 in a short interview that he is not optimistic.

The Co-Chairs met in Oslo to review the latest developments in Sri Lanka. Boucher represented USA. Japan, EU, and Norway, the other members of the Co-Chairs also participated in meeting.

The following is a rough translation of Boucher’s interview with Dagsavisen:

There is no military solution, says Richard A. Boucher, USA’s deputy foreign minister with responsibility for South and Central Asia.

Boucher says the CFA agreement Norway brokered in 2002 is in ruins. There is one way forward. The solution is through political negotiations.

- This road has to be kept open, and we press the parties for this to happen, says Boucher.

The experienced diplomat will use both whip and carrot in order to get the parties in the civil war back to the negotiation table. It has to be made abundantly clear what the consequences will be if the war continues.

- For the Government this will have economic consequences. It will be difficult to get investments to the country. Against the LTTE, which is a terrorist organization, pressure must be used against it to prevent human rights violations. The organization has been disrupted in their fundraising in USA, Canada, Australia and India.

Terrorists

Norway has not listed LTTE as a terrorist organization, but the USA has, and we asked Boucher if this is required to find a solution.

It is not only required , it is crucial he pointed out.

- We have to be honest. The organization has killed leading members of parliament and public officials, they have killed the Indian Prime Minister. They have been engaged in terrorism until to this day. This the nature of a terrorist organization.

He refused to compare the LTTE terror with the human rights violations that is committed by the Government. The Sri Lankan Government is leading a democratic country. However he says:

Large offensive

The Government forces have launched a large offensive against the Tamil Tigers forces, starting from last year. However Boucher doubts this conflict can be solved by military means. Both parties can have temporary successes in the battle field. This will not lead to a political solution, which will result in lasting peace.

- The sooner we get there, the better. That’s what we are pressing for.

To ease the human suffering in the East and North, Boucher says the international community must ensure the access for the NGO and the UN-organizations. Internally displaced persons need to be relocated in new settlements where they can enjoy democracy, security, justice, education and health.

Child soldiers

Both the Tamil Tigers and the Karuna group, which defected from the Tigers and supports the Government forces today, continue according to UNICEF to recruit child soldiers. Boucher says the USA is aware of this. In order to get the Tigers to abandon the use of child soldiers there must be pressure from the international community. When it comes to the Karuna group it has to be dissolved, he says. They have been involved in too many unacceptable actions, says the Assistant Secretary.

The USA shares the view of other countries involved in the peace process and a final solution must contain a one state solution where the Tamils are given broad control over their own matters. The problem is to get the parties to accept such a solution, he says.

We are now working with a power sharing solution, states Boucher.
In order to achieve this we have to reach out to all the Tamil community and show them they have a place on the Island. Negotiations are the foundation for this. The Government must reach out a hand and come with a proposal and the Tigers must be ready to respond.

He says he is an optimist. There is good reason to be a optimist. He believes the government will come up with a political solution and he hopes this will happen on the Tamil side too.

Interviewed by Erik R. Selmer 26th June 2007

- Asian Tribune -

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