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Sri Lanka has chance for political settlement now: US Ambassador

Dec 20, 2007 (LBO) – One of the best ways to combat poverty and inequality in Sri Lanka is to complete the all party process and the government has been given that opportunity with the passing of the budget, the United States envoy in Colombo said. Completing All Party Representatives Committee (APRC) will also lay the basis for a negotiated solution to the conflict, US ambassador Robert O Blake said Tuesday at the launch of a book on poverty and inequality by the Sri Lanka Economics Association.

The APRC, consisting of most of the island's political parties, has been holding lengthy talks on a power sharing deal to end the quarter-century old ethnic conflict.

"The all party's process offers a significant chance not only to affect meaningful power sharing with the regions as an essential component of constitutional reform, but also to build peace through development and by reducing regional poverty and inequities," Blake said.

The US call comes after UK High Commissioner Dominick Chilcott said the government had 18 months to come up with a solution.

This was because there are no elections due until the Provincial Council elections in the autumn of 2009.

"With the possible exception of next year’s budget, that suggests a

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