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Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — One of the highest-level European delegations to visit this war-torn country in years has failed to persuade the Sri Lankan government to declare a temporary truce with ethnic Tamil rebels.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa emphatically rejected the appeal Thursday and told Western governments to stop lecturing him, news agencies reported.

“The government is not ready to enter into any kind of cease-fire with the terrorists,” he said. “It is my duty to protect the people of this country. I don’t need lectures from Western representatives,” he said in a speech distributed by his office and quoted by the agencies.

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By BBC News

British and French foreign ministers in Sri Lanka have urged the government to halt its military offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels in the north. UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the call was not aimed at saving the Tamil rebel leader but the lives of thousands of civilians trapped. Correspondents say the government is unlikely to agree to a truce. It has previously rejected similar calls and its relations with European countries have been tense. The Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, had been due to accompany his European colleagues on the visit, but was refused entry by the Sri Lankan government. The European Union has strongly criticised the refusal. ‘Winning the peace’ “No-one in the international community has been calling for a ceasefire or to stop firing to save [Tiger leader Vellupillai] Prabhakaran. The calls have come because of the overwhelming concern with the wellbeing of the civilians,” Mr Miliband said.

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By BBC News

British and French foreign ministers in Sri Lanka have urged the government to halt its military offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels in the north.

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the call was not aimed at saving the Tamil rebel leader but the lives of thousands of civilians trapped.

Correspondents say the government is unlikely to agree to a truce.

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By CNN News

The Sri Lankan army overran two Tamil Tiger rebel positions in the country’s north on Tuesday, the military reported on its Web site.

Recently captured rebel weapons stacked up in the former Tamil stronghold of Kilinochchi.

The rebels “suffered double blows, losing two heavily fortified defense positions as … troops made predawn incursions at identified terror strong points located south of Valayanmadam today,” the Ministry of Defense said.

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By Thomas Fuller, The New York Times

Increasingly impatient with foreign calls for a pause in its war against Tamil rebels, the Sri Lankan government denied entry to the Swedish foreign minister who had planned to take part in a European Union humanitarian mission, Sweden said Tuesday.

Sweden said it would recall its chief diplomat in Sri Lanka.

Carl Bildt, a former prime minister and now the country’s foreign minister, told reporters in Luxembourg that his visa application was turned down by Colombo and accused the Sri Lankan government of “exceedingly strange behavior.”

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By The United Nations Department of Public Information

Representatives of four non-governmental organizations today called on the United Nations to speak out on the situation in northern Sri Lanka and urged the Security Council to take up the matter under the concept of “responsibility to protect”.

Speaking at a Headquarters press conference where they discussed the situation in and around the “no-fire zone” in northern Sri Lanka -– where Government forces are poised to overrun positions held by rebel fighters of the Liberation of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) -– were Joseph Cornelius Donnelly of Caritas Internationalis; Anna Neistat of Human Rights Watch; Robert Templer of the International Crisis Group; and Nimmi Gowrinathan of Operation USA. James Traub of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect was available to answer questions. The press conference was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations.

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By Andrew Stroehlein, International Crisis Group
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author’s alone.
“A mass slaughter of civilians will take place Tuesday at noon. And everyone knows it.” These are the words my colleague used to describe what is happening in Sri Lanka today in his new article for Foreign Policy’s online magazine. It is not an exaggeration: what’s happening in Sri Lanka is a massacre in progress.

There are over 100,000 civilians trapped in a tiny area, squeezed between the Sri Lankan government forces, who are shelling them, and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) who shoot them if they try to escape. The Army is advancing, and the death toll is rising rapidly. The situation has been compared to Srebrenica — which many journalists reading this will remember first hand — but the number of dead already exceeds that Balkan tragedy.

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