Saturday, Oct 04, 2003
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By V.S. Sambandan
Washington said on Thursday that it "determined that the LTTE continues to engage in terrorist activities" although it was "engaged in a peace process" with the Sri Lankan Government.
The SLFP, which was in power between 1994 and 2001, banned the LTTE after the rebels bombed the island's most-sacred Buddhist shrine, the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, in 1998. Subsequently, the SLFP Government got the group proscribed internationally.
The party opposed the lifting of the ban on the LTTE by the United National Front Government as a condition to commence talks last September.
Before the LTTE started talks with the Government, its Chief Negotiator, Anton Balasingham, said one of their prime objectives was to get the international bans revoked.
The domestic ban was lifted last October, but internationally the situation has not changed as India where the LTTE leader, V. Prabakaran, is the prime accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case the U.S. and the U.K. list it as a banned terrorist outfit.
Announcing Washington's decision to continue with the ban, the U.S. embassy said in a statement here today: "Although the LTTE are engaged in a peace process with the Government of Sri Lanka a process that the U.S. fully supports the U.S. has determined that the LTTE continues to engage in terrorist activities" and has "re-designated the LTTE as a foreign terrorist organisation pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended".
The Embassy said that the Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, told the visiting Sri Lankan Minister, Milinda Moragoda, who is a member of the Government's negotiating team, on September 29 that the U.S. could "revoke this designation at any time provided we are satisfied the organisation no longer meets the statutory criteria for designation as an FTO".
Calling for a "timely resumption" of the peace talks, stalled since the April 21 pullout by the LTTE, the U.S. hoped the "proposals by the LTTE for an interim administration in the North and East of the country will be reasonable and practical enough to form the basis for resuming talks".
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