US pledges military support to Sri Lanka, warns against war

June 1, 2006 (AFP) – The United States Thursday pledged “tangible military cooperation” with embattled Sri Lanka, but warned the government here against a return to war with Tamil Tiger rebels. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian affairs, Richard Boucher, said they will strengthen military ties with Sri Lanka, but worried that the Indian Ocean island nation was slipping towards full-scale war.

“It is important to be clear that the purpose of our assistance is not to encourage a return to war,” Boucher said after talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse.

Rajapakse told Boucher that he will ask majority Sinhalese political parties meeting here Friday to come up with a plan to share power with minority Tamils in a bid to end ethnic violence in the embattled country, his office said.

“Ambassador Boucher was told by the president that he would ask the All Party Conference to have a fresh outlook into this matter, and arrive at a consensus on proposals that could be placed before the Tigers,” his office said in a statement.

The statement did not detail a time table for a plan.

Boucher reiterated that there was no military solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka wh