|Saturday, 24 January 2004|
Donor nations to continue aid
by Ranga Jayasuriya
Donor nations which met at yesterday's aid group meeting said they were ready to continue with financial assistance, while expressing concern that the on going political crisis will hinder the efforts for a negotiated settlement.
The Government's Peace Secretariat website (www.peaceinsrilanka.org) said the donor community expressed "its resolve to support the peace efforts in Sri Lanka, through the continued assistance for reconstruction and development activity".
The Peace Secretariat added that participants expressed the need to expedite development activities to " ensure ownership of the peace dividend by everybody".
"It was a constructive meeting, everyone wanted to continue with aid, especially humanitarian aid for the North-East, but they all are concerned with the political situation," a Scandinavian diplomat who attended the close door meeting told the Daily News.
"The donors discussed the current political developments and reconstruction and development work in the North-East and in the entire country," he said.
The meeting, a follow up to the Tokyo aid conference was attended by about a dozen countries, international agencies and the International Monetary Fund and chaired by visiting Japanese peace envoy Yasushi Akashi, whose country made the largest financial assistance amounting to US$ one billion at the Tokyo conference.
The LTTE was absent at the meeting, attributing their non-attendance to the political instability in the South.
Meeting Akashi in Kilinochchi, LTTE political chief S.P. Thamilselvam turned down an invitation to attend the donor meeting saying that given the current political impasse, the LTTE's participation would "cast doubts in the minds of the Tamils".
This was the third time that the LTTE boycotted a donor meeting since its unilateral suspension of the peace talks in April last year.
Fifty two donor nations and around 20 international agencies pledged US $4.5 billion in aid for Sri Lanka in the Tokyo aid parley in June last year, but linked most of it to the progress of the peace talks.
Yesterday's meeting was to review the progress since the Tokyo aid conference and release financial assistance pledged in Tokyo.
Produced by Lake House