LTTE rules out tsunami aid talks leading to peace dialogue
Agence France Presse
Colombo, January 28:
Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels today ruled out tsunami aid talks leading to political negotiations and warned the government against using the catastrophe for scoring points or strengthening the military. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said talks with the government would only focus on reconstruction and rehabilitation of devastated areas.
“Even at a perilous juncture in the wake of the unprecedented Tsunami disaster, the government seems to be more engaged in subtle political moves and exert its power,” LTTE chief peace negotiator Anton Balasingham said.
He told tsunami survivors in the rebel-held coastal region of Mullaitivu that the government was trying to use massive foreign aid to rebuild its military machine. “All moves of right thinking people at this time should be focussed in alleviating the hardships of the displaced people and providing them the wherewithal to rebuild their life,” Balasingham was quoted as saying by the LTTE’s peace secretariat website. He said the Tigers were in discussions with the Colombo government on “structuring a common strategy to ensure equitable distribution of the international aid that is flowing abundantly into Colombo.” The Tigers did not want aid given to them directly, but instead wanted international agencies to carry out the work. “These discussions (with Colombo) differ from the usual political negotiations, in that it is at the LTTE and Government Peace Secretariat level and confined to rehabilitation and reconstruction matters,” he said.
Denies UN report
Tamil Tiger rebels on Friday denied claims by the United Nations that they have recruited 40 children to strengthen their ranks since the tsunami hit Sri Lanka last month. “We have not recruited any children. These allegations are completely false,” S Pulidevan, a top rebel leader, told The Associated Press. The UNICEF on Thursday said they had verified 40 cases of child recruitment by the rebels. Pulidevan said there were scores of children orphaned or displaced after the tsunami who had sought shelter with the Tigers. “They had nowhere to go so they came to us,” he said. “We are in the process of verifying the children’s’ details and will hand the children over to surviving parents and the others to an orphanage.” — AFP