Foreign Minister with the U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at the Justice Department

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama today called on the U.S. Government to assist Sri Lanka’s quest for peace, by taking stern action to prevent the LTTE from engaging in fund raising activities through numerous front organizations in the U.S.

He made this observation when on March 15, the second day of his visit to Washington, the Minister met with the U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at the Justice Department and Mr Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisor at the White House.

While expressing Sri Lanka’s appreciation for the proscription of the LTTE in the U.S. since 1997, as well as the recent arrests and prosecution of LTTE agents in New York and Maryland, the Minister noted that it is a matter of deep concern to Sri Lanka that the LTTE continues to function in many western countries including the U.S. through numerous front organisations involved in cultural, religious, economic and rehabilitation activities. He particularly noted that Sri Lanka had taken action to freeze the accounts of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) which while purporting to be a charitable body, has been the LTTE’s primary fundraising arm in the U.S. He said the Sri Lanka Government had observed substantial irregularities in the remittances received by TRO (Sri Lanka), when compared with its collections overseas, particularly in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The Minister said, along with the denial of access to weapons, curbing fundraising abroad is the key action the international community could take to force terrorists groups to give up terrorism and come to the negotiating table. The U.S. administration taking such action at the present juncture, when Sri Lanka is showing a genuine commitment to evolve consensus in the south to find a lasting settlement to the conflict, will send a clear message to the Tamil diaspora in this country that supporting terror through whatever means will not be condoned.

This afternoon the Foreign Minister briefed the Sri Lanka Congressional Caucus at the Capitol Hill on current developments in Sri Lanka, specifically the government’s peace initiative with broad-based political consensus in the south for a sustainable peace. The Minister pointed out that for these positive political developments to take effect, Sri Lanka needs greater support from the US and the international community to ensure that the LTTE becomes a stakeholder in the peace process. The Minister said that this needs concerted effort by the international community to prevent fund raising.

Foreign Minister meets with members of Sri Lanka Congressional Caucus

When the issue of a Special US Envoy to Sri Lanka was raised, Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona said that the moment one tries to change focus, the effort put into finding a solution to the conflict changes and the dialogue shifts, dissipating the effort. The Minister and the Secretary said that the government is already inquiring into specific human rights allegations through a Commission of Inquiry (COI) whose work is being observed by an International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) which also has US representation. There are also special mechanisms in place to handle humanitarian situations if they arise. Thus, both the Minister and the Secretary were of the view that there was no need for a Special US Envoy.

Foreign Minister Bogollagama shakes hands with Washington Times Editorial Page Editor Mr. Tony Blankley.

During the course of the day, the Minister was interviewed by the Boston Globe and the New York Times and participated in a stimulating interactive Editorial Board meeting at the Washington Times.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

15 March 2007

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