US warns LTTE that cost of war will be 'high'
United States ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead warned the Tamil Tigers against returning to war in Sri Lanka, reports PK Balachandran.Updated: Jan 21, 2006 11:48 IST
In a very significant speech here on Monday, United States ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead warned the LTTE saying that if it returned to war, it would find the cost to be "high".
Lunstead said that the rebel group would be facing a US-assisted, "stronger, more capable and more determined Sri Lankan military."
"Through our military training and assistance programmes, including efforts to help with counter-terrorism initiatives and block illegal financial transactions, we are helping to shape the ability of the Sri Lankan Government to protect its people and defend its interests," Lunstead told the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM).
"Let me be clear, our assistance is not given because we anticipate or hope for a return to hostilities. We want peace. We support peace. And we will stand by the people of Sri Lanka who desire peace."
"If the LTTE chooses to abandon peace, however, we want it to be clear, they will face a stronger, more capable and more determined Sri Lankan military."
"We want the cost of a return to war to be high," the envoy stressed.
While slamming the LTTE, he congratulated the Sri Lankan government for its continued restraint in the face of provocations by the terror group.
LTTE bottles up Tamils's aspirations
The US ambassador charged the LTTE of misleading the Tamils and said that instead of leading the community to peace and prosperity, it was blocking their path to peace and development. He questioned its legitimacy.
"The LTTE's current actions call into question its leadership of the Tamil people. What kind of leaders block their people from realising their most fundamental democratic aspirations?"
"What kind of leaders allow their people to continue to suffer from a lack of investment and industry?"
"What kind of leaders continue to pursue violence when the clear benefits of peace are obvious?" Lunstead asked.
"These are not acts of leadership. They directly undermine LTTE claims to legitimacy and they keep the aspirations of the Tamils bottled up," he said.
"We are helping to shape the ability of the Sri Lankan government to protect its people and defend its interests," he asserted.
LTTE invited to participate in development
The envoy then went on to invite the LTTE to participate in Sri Lanka's development in a peaceful atmosphere.
But made it clear that first, the group will have to abjure violence and return to the negotiating table.
"There can be a role for the LTTE in the future development of Sri Lanka, but only if it returns to the peace table, renounces terrorism in word and deed and becomes a responsible participant in Sri Lanka's future.
And this will lead to a better life for the Tamils and all Sri Lankans in the North and East," Lunstead said.
First Published: Jan 11, 2006 13:00 IST