German freezes aid pledges to Sri Lanka to push peace talks

BERLIN, Dec 24, 2006 (AFP) – Germany said Sunday it will not offer the Sri Lankan government new aid until the peace process in the country advances and called on other nations to increase the pressure on Colombo.

Overseas Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul told Berlin’s daily Tagesspiegel that Germany had been frustrated that its aid to Sri Lanka was not being used effectively due to ongoing ethnic violence.

But she said that Berlin had no plans to cut off financial transfers entirely when asked if aid should be dependent on a lasting peace deal between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels.

“We will not do that (cut off aid) because the tsunami victims would suffer,” she said, referring to the Asian disaster two years ago that killed an estimated 31,000 people in Sri Lanka alone while another million were left homeless.

“However we have stopped making new pledges to the government until the peace process gets back into gear. It would be good if other Western governments did the same.”

Wieczorek-Zeul said that because much of the aid to Sri Lanka was not reaching the people for whom it was intended, her ministry had redirected 19 million euros (25 million dol