The US today flayed Tamil Tiger rebels and asked the Sri Lankan Government to disarm paramilitary groups operating in the northeast to salvage the island's troubled peaceprocess.
"My visit together with (Norwegian peace envoy) Erik Solheim's is focused on getting diplomatic efforts to reinforce the ceasefire agreement," Burns told reporters here. He said this morning's bomb attack was 'reprehensible' and blamed the rebels for the deaths.
"The major part of the burden of peace rests with the LTTE....The Tamil people have genuine grievances and these should be resolved through dialogue not violence," Burns said. "We don't have direct contact with the LTTE, so we have to judge them by their actions. The actions of the last several weeks would indicate that this is an organization bent on provoking violence, as it commits violence, as it kills innocent people. "And so, if we see that kind of terrorism anywhere in the world I think all of us, as democratic citizens, need to reject it and need to call upon those who perpetrate it to stand down. So that's what the United States is saying today," Burns said.
Peace envoy Solheim told members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of Sri Lanka that the island is at cross roads. "My expectation is to find some ways for the parties to discuss how to reduce the number of (ceasefire) violations," he said. Burns also asked the government to take action against paramilitary groups operating in the northeast.
"There have been violence against Tamil civilians' activities of paramilitary groups have to be halted, investigated, people found responsible should be dealt with within the justice system. The government leaders I spoke to also believed that it (paramilitary groups) should be stopped," Burns said. His comments echoed warnings by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) who recently faulted the Colombo government for not acting against anti-Tiger paramilitary units targeting the LTTE.
"The LTTE claims that 'the People' are behind the attacks on the military," the SLMM said in a statement. "SLMM finds this explanation unacceptable. It is safe to say that LTTE involvement cannot be ruled out and we find the LTTE's indifference to these attacks worrying." Meanwhile, the Tiger's London-based peace negotiator Anton Balasingham, flew to Kilinochchi on a Sri Lankan air force helicopter after arriving in the island this morning. Balasingham is to aid rebel chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran during talks with Solheim on Wednesday.
Some 149 people, including security personnel, have died since the fresh upsurge in violence began in December.
The Tamil Tigers, are asking for a separate homeland in the northand east of Sri Lanka and have accused the majority Sinhalesedominated government of discrimination.
More than 60,000 people died during nearly three decades of conflict, before a Norwegian-brokered truce came into effect in February 2002.