Japanese envoy warns Sri Lanka of aid cut

TOKYO, Jan 31, 2008 (AFP) – Japan, Sri Lanka’s top donor, warned Thursday it could cut off aid if violence continued to escalate but said it hoped to provide long-term support to bring peace. “We could be forced to review our aid policy if military action keeps escalating, although Sri Lanka wants Japan to continue it,” Yasushi Akashi, Japan’s special peace envoy to the island, told reporters in Tokyo.

Sri Lanka is embroiled in 36 years of conflict since Tamil Tiger rebels launched an armed campaign to carve out an independent homeland for minority Tamils in the majority Sinhalese nation.

Colombo on January 2 scrapped a Norwegian-brokered 2002 ceasefire, with had become little more than symbolic amid escalating fighting with the rebels, formally known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“Unless the government and the LTTE choose peace, appeals from the outside world, no matter how many are made, will fall on deaf ears,” Akashi said.

But Akashi, a former UN diplomat and troubleshooter in Cambodia and Kosovo, said that Japan wanted to stay engaged for decades to come.

“Peace should be built over a long timespan through different methods. We should prepare ou