Sri Lanka warn of ‘tragic error’ in Western aid cut

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka told Western donor nations Tuesday that it would be a “tragic error” to cut aid to the island nation due to alleged human rights abuses linked to a longstanding ethnic conflict. Britain, Germany and the Netherlands have already slashed various forms of aid to Colombo due to human rights abuses and other reasons linked to the conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels and several other nations could follow suit.

The United States also has refused to include Sri Lanka in its so-called Millennium Challenge Account, under which it could receive millions of dollars in aid for building critical infrastructure.

“It would be a tragic error to withhold pecuniary resources from Sri Lanka because that will create conditions in which extremism and terrorism would thrive,” the island’s international trade minister, G.L. Peiris, told AFP in an interview in Washington.

“So, whoever argues that pressure must be brought to bear on the democratically elected government of Sri Lanka by cutting off resources which should be available to the government is unwittingly — not deliberately or intentionally — strengthening the hand of terrorism,” he said.

Peiris said he had conveyed “this stro