US, Britain call for ‘temporary no-fire’ in Sri Lanka

WASHINGTON, February 3, 2009 (AFP) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her British counterpart David Miliband called here Tuesday for a “temporary no-fire period” in Sri Lanka to evacuate casualties and allow in relief. “Secretary Clinton and Foreign Secretary Miliband call on both the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) to agree to a temporary no-fire period,” the pair said in a joint statement.

“Both sides need to allow civilians and wounded to leave the conflict area and to grant access for humanitarian agencies,” including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), they added after a meeting in Washington.

“We also call on both sides to allow food and medical assistance to reach those trapped by fighting, cooperate with the ICRC to facilitate the evacuation of urgent medical cases, and ensure the safety of aid and medical workers,” they said.

The statement did not go as far as the quartet of international backers — the United States, European Union, Japan and Norway — which called on the LTTE rebels to negotiate terms of surrender with the government and avoid a bloodbath.

But it welcomed the statement by the four for “expressing their great concern