Sri Lanka says no quick-fix to Tamil conflict

WASHINGTON, Oct 3, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka cannot be pressured by the international community to bring about a political solution to its long-running separatist conflict, its foreign secretary T.B. Kohona said. He said the government was searching for a political solution broadly acceptable to all the stakeholders while continuing to encourage Tamil separatists to renounce violence and enter the democratic process.

“The government invites the international community to support this approach and to understand that you cannot have a quick-fix solution,” Kohona said in a talk at Georgetown University in Washington on Tuesday.

“A political settlement in a democracy has to be carefully and patiently negotiated with all the stakeholders,” he said.

Kohona called “blind critics” those who argue that the government is pursuing a military solution to the Sri Lanka conflict, which has already claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972.

“This is far from the truth,” he said, adding however that Colombo’s commitment to a political solution “does not imply appeasement of terror.”

Sri Lanka is under pressure from key foreign backers not to pursue the military option, as Colombo steps up its fight again