US backs India's efforts to end fighting in Sri Lanka
Posted on: 10:15 AM IST Apr 25, 2009
Washington: The US has expressed support for India's efforts to end the fighting in Sri Lanka between the government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels.
"We support Indian efforts to stop the fighting," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said on Friday, noting that New Delhi had sent two special emissaries "to convey their government's concerns about the conflict to the government of Sri Lanka".
India on Friday sent National Security Advisor M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon to convey India's concerns to Colombo.
The US, Wood said, was "routinely in discussions with the government of Sri Lanka" and also in touch with the government of India. But "at this point" they were not sending any officials to Colombo.
"We remain extremely concerned for the safety of the remaining civilians in the no-fire zone," Wood said.
Although tens of thousands of people have fled the area, numerous people have been killed, and tens of thousands of additional civilians remain in the conflict area.
Calling on the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tigers to end hostilities, the US official said the rebels must stop holding civilians and stop putting them in harm's way and "lay down their arms and surrender to a third party".
The international community should be prepared to play a role to end the fighting, Wood said, adding that the US fully supported UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's decision to send a UN humanitarian team to the no-fire zone, as his envoy Vijay Nambiar and President Mahinda Rajapaksa had agreed to last week.
The US also urged Colombo to allow the team into the no-fire zone as soon as possible, permit critical supplies to pass more rapidly through military checkpoints, share its registration information of internally displaced persons with the UN, identify additional shelter sites, and authorise continued medical evacuations from the no-fire zone.