Sri Lanka has moved to thwart a bid in the US Senate to stall military aid to it citing human rights violations.
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, now in the US, has said that the proposed amendment to the Department of State Appropriation Bill to restrict defence cooperation with Sri Lanka will be "unreasonable" and will only provide a fresh "lifeline to the LTTE".<b1>
Bogollagama told an audience at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington on October 4, that the charges of rights violations were based on "disinformation" "misinformation" and "dated information" and that the Mahinda Rajapaksa government had a clear road map for a peaceful settlement of the Tamil question.
Given the fact that other terrorist groups might emulate the LTTE, the latter could become an "international threat".
Meanwhile, The Nation weekly reported on Sunday that Senator Patrick Leahy, who had introduced the resolution to cut military aid to Sri Lanka, had refused to meet Bogollagama.
The paper quoted Leahy's foreign relations advisor Tim Reiser as saying that the Senator's resolution had nothing to do with the LTTE. It was moved because the Sri Lankan government had proved to be "utterly unwilling to take responsibility" for the rights violations in the country.
Defence budget up
Sri Lanka is to further increase its defence spending in the coming year. A report in The Sunday Times on the 2007-2008 annual budget to be presented in November, says that the spending on the defense and national security apparatus is going to be SLRs.166.4 billion ($1.46 billion) in 2008, up from SLRs 139 billion ($1.2 bn) in 2007.
In South Asia, it is Sri Lanka which spends the most on defence in terms of the percentage of expenditure on it.