Japanese envoy urges Sri Lanka to choose war or peace

COLOMBO, May 10, 2006 (AFP) – A top Japanese envoy Wednesday warned that the international community cannot restore Sri Lanka’s faltering ceasefire and urged the government and Tamil rebels to decide for themselves on war or peace. Peace emissary Yasushi Akashi ended his four-day visit calling on both Colombo and the Tiger rebels to scale down the latest violence, which he described as the worst since his appointment in late 2002.

“It is very clear the ownership of the peace process belongs entirely to the government and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam),” he told reporters.

He said the island’s key foreign backers — Japan, the US, the European Union and Norway — will meet in Tokyo later this month to review their engagement in the peace process in the light of “slow progress”.

“We in the international community play a supportive role in this process. Unfortunately too much is expected of us. Sometimes we are unduly criticised for doing too much or too little.”

Akashi said both sides must work towards reducing violence which has claimed more than 200 lives over the past month and threatened a ceasefire in place since 2002.

“There is a deep anxiety over the escalating violence,” he said.