Wednesday, February 4, 2009
U.S., Britain call for ceasefire in Sri Lanka
Let's hope leaders of Sri Lanka will not seek bloody retribution against the Tamil Tigers insurgent group that appeared on the verge of surrender this week after a nearly 30-year insurgency. Officials of the United States and Britain have suggested a ceasefire between the government and the remaining rebels to evacuate casualties and allow humanitarian aid into the last rebel-held territory, according to the Reuters international news service. As many as 250,000 civilians are trapped between opposing forces, Reuters said, citing information from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa applauded his army's apparent success Wednesday as part his island nation's 61st celebration of independence from Britain, the colonial ruler. "Our troops were able to carry forward the battle against terror with great care so as not to cause harassment to the innocent Tamil people," Rajapaksa said Wednesday in a speech to top officials and diplomats. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband issued a joint statement callilng for the ceasefire. "Secretary Clinton and Foreign Secretary Miliband call on both the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to agree to a temporary no-fire period," the statement said, according to Reuters. "Both sides need to allow civilians and wounded to leave the conflict area and to grant access for humanitarian agencies." Japan and Norway also urged the insurgents to surrender to avoid additional casualties.