Tuesday, May 30, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No US military aid to Lanka

COLOMBO, May 29 (UNI, PTI) — US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering today said his country fully endorsed the peace initiative of Norway and India to find a political solution to the Sri Lankan crisis, but underlined that “the USA would in no way extend any military assistance to Sri Lanka.”

“The USA supports the Indian and Norwegian initiative, and is willing to extend humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka if asked,” Mr Pickering told newspersons here after meeting Opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe at his office. He had earlier held discussions with Indian and Norwegian leaders in New Delhi. However, Mr Pickering ruled out “any military assistance to Sri Lanka.”

Mr Pickering, who arrived here on a one-day visit, said, “A political solution has to be found out within the democratic framework of Constitution and for this the government and the Opposition have to sit together and work out a solution.”

Mr Pickering, after holding talks with President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadrigamar, told reporters, “I would like to see the talks (between the government and the LTTE) right away.”

When asked whether any immediate proposal to end the war was discussed at the meeting with Mr Pickering, Mr Wickramasinghe said “He listened to us, but no such proposal was discussed.”

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Government today charged the LTTE with conscripting all school children along with men and women above 45 years of age in the northern Vanni region, even as the fighting intensified in northern Jaffna with navy destroying two supply boats and damaging five others.

The LTTE, in an attempt to boost the depleting numbers of its cadre, began a massive conscription drive in the area under its control, an official press note here said.

Meanwhile, amidst intense fighting in Jaffna peninsula, Sri Lankan navy for the first time in six weeks of war today destroyed LTTE boats carrying arms and ammunitions for the Tamil rebels.

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