US ‘deeply concerned’ by latest Sri Lanka fighting

WASHINGTON, Oct 11, 2006 (AFP) – The United States said it was “deeply concerned” Wednesday by intense fighting in Sri Lanka that has jeopardized new efforts to revive a peace agreement between the government and minority Tamil rebels. McCormack said Washington was working closely with its fellow co-chairs “to find a way forward to an end to the violence and human rights violations in Sri Lanka and a return to negotiations between the parties”. At least 85 people were killed and more than 400 wounded in clashes Wednesday when a government offensive ran into resistance from Tamil Tiger rebels in northern Sri Lanka.

The offensive came hours after Norway announced that the two sides had agreed to meet in Switzerland October 28 and 29 in a bid to save a 2002 truce and end an upsurge in violence that has claimed over 2,200 lives since December.

The United States welcomed the agreement to resume talks, “but is deeply concerned that ongoing violence in Sri Lanka is putting the agreement at risk,” State Department Sean McCormack said.

“We call on both sides to cease hostilities immediately and foster an environment that is conducive to holding productive discussions in Geneva,” he said in a statement.

“We also urge both sides to