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US military aid to SL defensive: Envoy

The newly-appointed US envoy to Sri Lanka R Blake said this while briefing the media, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Sep 19, 2006 19:09 IST

The new American Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert O Blake, said here on Tuesday, that US military aid to Sri Lanka was only "defensive".

In his first interaction with the Sri Lankan and foreign media, Blake was asked how American military aid to Sri Lanka could be reconciled with Washington's other objective of promoting peace talks with the LTTE.

In his opening remarks he had said that the US was "helping to strengthen the Sri Lankan military to confront terrorism".

Clarifying the US stand, Blake said that renunciation of terrorism should be the first step for the LTTE.

But so far, it had given no indication that it was doing so, he noted.

It was in this context that the US was helping to strengthen the Sri Lankan military to confront terrorism.

However, the peace process must be strengthened and dialogue begun. 

"Terrorism cannot be defeated by law enforcement and military measures alone," Blake said.

"That is why President Bush has made the promotion of democracy one of the centerpieces of American foreign policy."

"That is why Sri Lanka too must develop a political strategy to develop consensus for peace," he said.

"The Sri Lankan government must show it is willing to address legitimate Tamil grievances, including articulating a political vision for the future of the country that provides room for the aspirations of all citizens, from all religions and ethnicities," he stressed.

In this context he applauded the recent moves by the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the opposition United National Party (UNP) to develop a consensus on how to take the peace process forward.

Ambassador Blake praised President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his efforts to get international assistance to monitor human rights issues in Sri Lanka.