U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Ms Christina Rocca on Thursday praised the commitment shown in moving forward the Sri Lanka peace process and said the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE "have made significant progress toward a political solution that protects the dignity and security of all Sri Lankans and preserves that country's unity". She added that the LTTE had 'renounced Tamil Eelam" but that they would need to "renounce violence in word and deed" in order to be removed from the US list of proscribed terrorist organisations. She noted that the organization was still acquiring weapons. She re-iterated that the US was committed to helping the Government of Sri Lanka achieve a peace settlement not only for the benefit of Sri Lanka, but also to show that peace can be achieved through negotiations.

Assistant Secretary Rocca made these observations when she testified at a hearing of the House of Representatives International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, held on March 20th, 2003. This was in response to a question by Representative Brad Sherman ( Democrat- California), who asked whether "as peace takes hold" there was a possibility that the LTTE would be removed from the list of proscribed terrorist organizations, in particular, whether the "prior behavior" would become an issue.

The hearing on "The US and South Asia: Challenges and Opportunities for American Policy" was chaired by Representative James A. Leach (Republican-Iowa), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. Chairman Leach in his opening statement referred to South Asia as a region that has "sharply risen in prominence for American policymakers in the aftermath of the events of September 11" and stated that "although South Asia remains one of the most volatile regions, the United States can point to a number of diplomatic achievements in recent years." Commenting on Sri Lanka, Chairman Leach observed that " in Sri Lanka, Deputy Secretary of State Armitage has been personally engaged in lending US support to the on-going cease-fire and hopeful peace process". Responding to a question posed by the Chairman of the Sub-committee, on whether the Peace Corps would return to Sri Lanka, Ms Rocca replied that a security assessment team from the Peace Corps had already returned from an initial visit to Sri Lanka.

Assistant Administrator of the USAID's Bureau for Asia and the Near East Wendy J. Chamberlin, who also testified before the sub-committee described Sri Lanka as " a success story", and "a clearly defined example of putting the Administration's policies of accountable foreign aid to work in the region". Noting that "until last year, Sri Lanka was on the road to becoming a non-presence post," she said, "we have reversed those staffing decisions and requested additional resources in the financial year 2004 in recognition that, at least, they are on the right track". She pointed out that "USAID's humanitarian assistance and longer-term economic reforms are designed to ensure the 'peace dividend' is distributed equitably among the peoples of Sri Lanka." US economic aid to Sri Lanka has increased from $3.69 million in 2001 to $19.5 million requested for 2004.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

21 March 2003


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