Washington: The United States has said that the Sri Lankan government has ‘failed’ to meet its own commitment of protecting civilians in the war zones and asked banned LTTE to lay down arms and stop fighting.
“They have failed to meet their own commitments,” US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher said.
“We expect the government to meet the standards as one respects the democracy. In fact, we expect them to meet the standards they set themselves. When they say no heavy weapons, when they say no fire zones, when they say no aerial bombardments, when they say no major combat operations, we believe them,” he said.
Indicating that the Obama administration was not happy with the moves of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government with regard to civilian casualties and continued shelling, he said: “It is a very strong disappointment to see they have not lived up to those things.”
Boucher also asked the LTTE, branded as a terrorist organisation by both the UN and the US, to lay down their arms, saying that it is time for them to stop fighting.
His statement came less than two hours before the US President Barack Obama condemned LTTE for holding civilians and using them as human shield in their war against the Sri Lankan forces.
”We condemn the way they are holding civilians. We made it very clear that they need to release the civilians and lay down their arms to a neutral third party,“ Boucher said.
Observing that there is lot of US concern about the current situation in Sri Lanka, he said: “We do think that it is important to go about this to end of the conflict, the end of terrorism, in a manner that does not show any seeds in future and in a manner that actually opens the door to future political arrangements on the island where everybody in the island can live with peace and some degree of autonomy.”
Responding to a question with regard to civilian casualties, Boucher said: “We are certainly not holding them to any different standards. We are just expecting to act like a democracy, to meet their commitment and to take a view that this has to be solved in a manner that opens up a political door to stable set of political arrangement on the island.”