Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Lanka assured full quantum of aid - Akashi

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The donor community which has pledged aid to Sri Lanka at the upcoming aid conference would not withdraw any significant assistance already pledged despite possible economic repercussions as a result of the war threat in Iraq, the Government's chief negotiator Minister Prof G.L Peiris declared yesterday.

Japanese special envoy Yashushi Akashi yesterday assured the full quantum of aid promised to Sri Lanka at the upcoming donor conference despite the anticipated setback on Japan's economy by the possible outbreak of war in Iraq, he said.

Akashi who chaired yesterday's sessions of the Hakone talks said he was highly impressed by the manner both parties were able to continue the talks despite the recent incident in Mullaithivu. He also prevailed on the parties to ensure the current ceasefire will not be hampered in any way by such incidents in the future.

Initially the Govt of Japan entertained fears that the Mullaithivu incident would derail the talks. But seeing them together at the negotiating table spoke volumes for the resillence and maturity of both parties, Akashi said.

The Japanese special envoy was so impressed he told the parties that the Govt of Japan will not even reduce a penny pledged at the June 19th donor conference as an endorsement of Japan's support for the peace process.

Meanwhile the Govt delegate minister Milinda Moragoda yesterday turned down a request by the LTTE to reduce the strength of the Military in the present High Security Zones adding that they would have to wait for the Nambiar Report that would be available by the next round of talks in Bangkok before any such decision could be made. Peiris also said that the final workshop between the LTTE and the UNICEF to finalise the programme in connection with child soldiers will be held before the Sinhala-Tamil New Year.

The parties have already had four workshops following the visit of Carol Bellamy which had been successfully concluded, Peiris said adding that a comprehensive mechanism to deal with the issue will be finalized before the June aid conference. Former Amnesty International Secretary General Ian Martin was present at yesterday's meeting.

He was instrumental in preparing a document on human rights at the Berlin talks co-opting the Human Rights Commission and agencies sponsored by the UNICEF to supervise the rehabilitation of child soldiers.