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US encouraging EU to ban Tigers

COLOMBO: The US has encouraged the European Union (EU) to list the LTTE [as a banned organisation], US State Department's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Camp stated yesterday.

"We think the LTTE is very deserving of that label. We think it will help cut off financial supplies and weapons procurement and the like," Camp told national television Rupavahini in an exclusive interview.

Camp said he came to Sri Lanka "because of our concern about the developing situation in Sri Lanka".

"The trend lines are discouraging in terms of the increasing provocations by the LTTE, the fact that killings are increasing, all of these suggest that Sri Lanka is not on the way back to a lasting Ceasefire. We would like to do everything we can, as an outside party, to encourage a return to the peace process," he remarked.

He disclosed that the Co-Chairs [US, EU, Norway, Japan] would be meeting in a few weeks. "So I'm here to look at what we might do to encourage that progress back to the peace process." He called on the LTTE to re-assess its methods and abandon terrorism, as that was the only way it can really have a future in a united Sri Lanka.

Q: What do you see as the solution to the ethnic issue ?

A: I don't think that it is really our role, as an outsider, to prescribe a solution to the conflict, or the dilemma in which Sri Lanka finds itself. I do think people of all persuasions, of all ethnic groups, of all political parties, need to get together and present a united front, and decide that Sri Lanka's future will be peace and prosperity and democracy and territorial integrity, rather than the alternative.

Asked what the US can say to help Sri Lanka during this war of aggression launched by the LTTE, especially if Prabhakaran escalates it into full-scale conflict, Camp said Sri Lanka would continue to receive the moral support and the diplomatic support of the United States.

"Certainly, the LTTE is a terrorist group of the first order. That said there's no question that the Government of Sri Lanka has responsibilities as well.

One of those, which the Government has certainly acknowledged, is to address the legitimate grievances of the Tamil people. That includes, of course, dealing with the disturbing number of killings in recent months.

This is something the Government has said it will investigate. We think those investigations should be carried out promptly and thoroughly - we think it is the responsibility of the Government to uphold law and order, and that is a responsibility of any democratic Government."

Q: The LTTE's Sea Tiger leader Soosai, told the BBC once: "Organisations like al-Qaeda are already copying us. They're using our tactics, in Yemen they used our strategy of suicide attacks to blow up an American ship." Your comments as America leads the war on terror ?

A: The LTTE should not be proud of its claim to be the originator of suicide bombings as a tactic. In fact, they were not; our Marine barracks were attacked in 1983, in Lebanon [by suicide bombers]. The LTTE should abandon terrorism.

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