Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kouchner, Miliband: Came, Saw, Could Not Conquer

Sri Lanka Express

Colombo - The French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Dr. Bernard Kouchner and Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom David Miliband did not see their mission of getting a ceasefire deal accomplished during their official visit to Sri Lanka.

In addition to discussions with Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollogma, the two ministers called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa, visited the IDP welfare centres in Vavuniya, and the Field Hospital donated by the French Government in Chettikulam.

According to an SL Foreign Ministry press release the two delegations met with all the relevant line Ministries involved with the current humanitarian efforts relating to the IDPs, including the Attorney-General, the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Secretaries to the Ministries of Healthcare & Nutrition, Social Services, Justice, Nation Building.

Foreign Minister Bogollagama told the visiting dignitaries that Sri Lanka was on the threshold of defeating terrorism and briefed them on the ongoing efforts by the Government and the close collaboration with the international community as well as UN agencies and the ICRC, in supplying the needs of the displaced population including shelter, food and health. The two visiting dignitaries while expressing concern for the security and welfare of the displaced civilian population, condemned the LTTE for holding the civilian population hostage in the “no fire zone,” the ministry said.

At a joint press conference, Miliband said: "Now is the time for the fighting to stop ... There is no question that the military advance of government forces over last six months has been striking. But winning the peace is as vital as winning the war.” Kouchner told reporters that he would press authorities to allow humanitarian access to those civilians still inside the conflict zone.

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