Secretary, Ministry of Plan Implementation and Adviser to the President on Economic Affairs Ajith Nivard Cabraal, who met with Asst. Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Amb. Richard Boucher at the State Department today (18 May), re-iterated President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s firm conviction to evolve a political settlement to the conflict in Sri Lanka. He emphasized that to ensure the success of such a move, it was necessary that the current peace endeavour in Sri Lanka be an “inclusive” process and that in order to see it through, it was necessary for President Rajapaksa to continue to enjoy the credibility of all sections of the population. Noting that most earlier efforts at bringing a sustainable settlement had faltered as it did not have the support of the main political parties. He said President Rajapaksa was keen to avoid such a situation by building a consensus through the All Party Conference.

With reference to recent reports, which the LTTE has blamed on the Government, Mr. Cabraal stated that President Rajapaksa had been a human rights activist all his life and would not condone any such activities. Mr. Cabraal also noted that despite the suicide attack on the Army Commander, the security forces maintained strict discipline and did not to engage in any acts of violence. Even in the aftermath of the premeditated and provocative explosion in the Trincomalee market, the situation was brought under control within a few hours and order was restored speedily on the instructions of the President. Further, whenever the forces had to retaliate against LTTE attacks, President Rajapaksa was intent on ensuring that it was a limited operation and should only deal with denting the capacity of the LTTE to threaten strategic targets.

With reference to the Karuna group, Mr. Cabraal observed that it was not a group with an organized structure and camps. He assured Amb. Boucher that the Government was not arming or financing the Karuna group in any manner. He also stated that the Government had kept its pledge as per the Geneva statement that it “will not allow any armed groups to operate in government controlled areas”. Mr. Cabraal further informed Amb. Boucher that there was increasing information that there are more dissident groups emerging from both within the LTTE and the Tamil diaspora and that the LTTE should not expect the Government to neutralize them on its behalf.

Emphasizing the viciousness with which the LTTE was operating at present, Mr. Cabraal said it is significant to take note of the fact that the LTTE had used a woman, who was five months pregnant as a suicide bomber in their attempt assassinate the Commander of the Army. He noted that it would mean that this entire assignment was planned out over a period of time, even while the LTTE was participating in the peace negotiations in Geneva.

Earlier, welcoming Mr. Cabraal, Amb. Richard Boucher noted that he was looking forward to visiting Colombo in early June immediately after attending the Tokyo meeting of the Co-Chairs. He said he had previously visited Sri Lanka very briefly with former Secretary of State Colin Powell during the Tsunami, but was looking forward to a more comprehensive visit. Discussing how the post tsunami recovery was taking place. Mr. Cabraal noted that while in some respects the rebuilding and reconstruction effort has proceeded speedily, in areas such as construction of houses, the pace had been slower. With respect to the North and East, through the District Secretaries the Government had channeled assistance and they were working with the LTTE in carrying out these tasks, although the LTTE does not readily admit such assistance.

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US Bernard A.B. Goonetilleke, Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha and First Secretary Ms. Dhammika Semasinghe, were associated with Mr. Cabraal at the meeting.

Mr. Cabraal who is also the nodal point in Sri Lanka with respect to the implementation of the Millennium Challenge Account funds, earlier met with Ambassador John Danilovich, the CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Arising from that meeting Mr. Cabraal learnt that the MCC is working towards a programme to sign an agreement for the assistance by the first quarter of 2007.

During his stay in Washington Mr. Cabraal also met with Mr. Robert Dohner, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia, Department of Treasury and Ms. Holly Vineyard, Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, U.S. Dept. of Commerce. He also met Congressman Jim Leach, Chairman of the Sub Committee on Asia and the Pacific of the House Committee on International Relations.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

18 May 2006


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