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Sunday, 25 January 2009

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Akashi assures UNP (D) of continued support to Sri Lanka

A delegation of UNP (Democratic Group) that met visiting Japanese peace envoy Yasushi Akashi Friday evening at the Japanese embassy discussed elimination of terrorism, restoration of peace and normal life in the north and east, political settlement of the Tamil problem and HR situation in the island, said Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Engineering Services and Construction. He told the Sunday Observer that the 90-minute discussion their four-member delegation had with the Japanese envoy was centered on the ongoing military operations to eliminate terrorism, restoration of democracy in the war-torn areas, recognition of the political aspirations and rights of the affected people and HR situation and a political package by way of a lasting solution to the Tamil problem.

Minister Rajitha said that their delegation led by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M.H. Mohamed included himself and Ministers Mano Wijeratne, Minister Dharmadasa Banda and Senior Civil Servant Kumar Abeysinghe and the Japanese envoy was accompanied by Ambassador Kiyoshi Araki and two senior diplomats.

Minister Mohamed delegated him to speak on behalf of the delegation and he mainly spoke on the dire need for eliminating terrorism from the face of the country, restoring democracy, provision of all basic needs of the affected people, recognition of their right to govern themselves and undertake development activities and political settlement of the Tamil problem, Minister Rajitha said. He also handed over to the peace envoy a copy of their peace proposal which was submitted to the All Party Representative Committee (APRC).

In fact the meeting was arranged as desired by the visiting peace envoy whom he had met eight months ago in Tokyo and held a 90-minute discussion on the Sri Lankan situation, Rajitha said.

"Akashi insisted on free and fair elections after liberation of the entire Northern province unlike in the east where incidents were reported during elections. But the precarious situation that prevailed in the east during the polls due to the reason that the LTTE was on a killing spree and other armed groups were permitted to carry arms for their self-defence was explained to him. The fact that several TMVP members and supporters were killed by the LTTE was apprised to him.

"When the question of human rights came up we pointed out that HR situation had somewhat deteriorated due to the presence of well-equipped armed group that was posing threat to law and order situation, lives of civilians, political leaders and others. It was explained that the situation would very much improve after the total elimination of terrorism.

"We appreciated the point of view expressed by the peace envoy that any political solution should be acceptable to the Tamil diaspora spread throughout the world so that they will themselves come here, bring investors and extend their support and cooperation towards prosperity and peace in the country.

"We explained the fact that the poor people of the affected areas are not interested in power devolution but want only improvement to their living condition, development of their respective areas, infrastructure, educational facilities to their children and ways and means of eking out a decent living and, on the contrary it is the middle and upper middle class families among them are the ones who seek power devolution. It was also explained that once LTTE terrorism was eliminated democracy and freedom of the people of the war-torn areas will emerge automatically. We cited examples of post-war Japan and Germany that rose as exemplary democracies and super powers.

"Japan's continued support towards promoting trade, tourism, investment and aid was assured at the meeting."

 

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