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Co-chairs to discuss Lanka situation

The co-chairs comprise of the United States, European Union, Japan and Norway, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2006 16:38 IST

The co-chairs of the Tokyo Donors' Conference will be meeting in Oslo urgently to address the issues thrown up by the LTTE's bid on the life of the Sri Lankan Army Chief and the subsequent air, sea and land operations against LTTE positions in Trincomalee district.

The co-chairs represent the International Community (IC) in the Sri Lankan peace process.

Informed sources told Hindustan Times on Thursday, that the co-chairs would be meeting in a day or two.

The co-chairs comprise the United States, European Union, Japan and Norway.

Asked what the co-chairs or the rest of the international community could do to stem the dangerous slide towards open war in Sri Lanka, the sources said that all attempts would be made to get the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE to suspend their actions and consider coming for talks.

Encouragingly, Thursday was calm.

The air strikes had stopped and there was no communal tension in the island following the LTTE's bid on Army Chief Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka's life on Tuesday.

Urgent need to curb terrorist funding

According to sources, banning the LTTE is not considered a very useful option in the absence of an interest in curbing terrorist financing.

The Canadian ban, clamped earlier this month, is useless considering the fact that it does not ban contributions to the front organisations of the LTTE or participation in the activities of these organisations.

There is the UN Convention on Terrorist Financing, which has to be implemented.

Canada and US can do so, if they want to.

So far, the US and the West have been concerned only with Islamic terror groups, particularly, Al-Qaeda.

The US will have expand its area of concern to include the LTTE. But this involves allocation of money and human resources, both in short supply.

Sources said that the US might have a problem coming down on the LTTE's front organizations because it was working with the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) in North East Sri Lanka.

The TRO, which is generally believed to be close to the LTTE, is not a banned organisation, either in the US or in Sri Lanka, and is said to be doing good work.

Over 600 seek refuge in India

Like the co-chairs, India too is closely watching the developments in Sri Lanka, according to highly places sources in New Delhi.

But its leverage is somewhat limited because it has no contact with the LTTE, which is proscribed in India.

Sources said that India's primary concern was to get the two parties to suspend hostilities and return to the negotiating table.

According to the UNHCR, 596 Sri Lankan Tamils had come over to India as refugees since December 2005, when the security situation in the island began to worsen.

The latest influx was on April 22, when 16 persons landed in Tamil Nadu.

SL briefs diplomats

On Thursday, the Sri Lankan government briefed the diplomatic missions here on the situation created by the LTTE's suicide bomb attack on the Army Commander Gen Fonseka.

While the diplomats expressed solidarity with the government in its hour of sorrow and shared the righteous indignation, some of them reportedly raised the issue of the retaliatory aerial, naval and ground shelling in the Sampur-Muthur area of Trincomalee district.

The diplomats wanted UN and other humanitarian agencies to be given access to the affected areas, which lay in parts of the district controlled by the LTTE.

Govt Agent says 10, 718 families displaced

Following the bombing and shelling of the Sampur- Mutur area in Trincomalee district, by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces on Tuesday and Wednesday, 10,718 families have been displaced, according to the district Government Agent.

The UNHCR had quoted this in its statement dated April 26.

The statement said that the heightened tension and sustained military operations in the Sampur area had caused "fear insecurity and population movement."

The UNHCR, however, noted that the Government Agent's figures significantly exceeded earlier findings and could not be presently confirmed.

The LTTE, on it part, has officially stated that 40, 000 persons have fled due to the bombing and shelling since Tuesday evening.

This is roughly equivalent to 10,718 families.

The UNHCR also said that many of the displaced might have moved very temporarily, say for a few hours, and come back when the "all clear" was felt.

The UN agency said that there were no verified reports of casualties. But the LTTE said that 12 persons were killed.

LTTE flays international community

In an angry statement, the LTTE on Wednesday condemned the aerial, naval and ground shelling conducted by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and lambasted the international community of turning a "blind eye" to what it described as "genocide."

The LTTE said that the international community had "failed to put pressure on the Government of Sri Lanka."

The international community had turned " a blind eye" to the "reprehensible murder of Tamil civilians."

This had given "distress and dissatisfaction" to the LTTE and to the Tamil people, the statement said.

Truce monitor in Sampur

Maj Gen Ulf Henricsson, the Head of the Scandinavian-staffed Sri Lanka (Truce) Monitoring Mission (SLMM), went to Sampur on Thursday for an on the spot study of the humanitarian situation there.

The TRO had asked the SLMM to arrange for humanitarian relief for the affected people.

The international community has expressed an interest in responding, and the relevant UN agencies are already in Trincomalee district chalking out relief plans.

First Published: Apr 27, 2006 14:18 IST