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Sri Lanka: Annan urges respect for ceasefire

Reacting to worsening security in Sri Lanka, Annan urges respect for ceasefire

Responding to the deteriorating security situation in Sri Lanka, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the country’s Government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to support the ceasefire and resume talks.

In a statement released by his spokesman in New York, Mr. Annan also deplored Saturday’s attack on the facilities of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission.

This Mission, which includes observers from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, was set up under a ceasefire agreement of February 2002 aimed at ending two decades of fighting between the Government and separatist forces that has claimed some 60,000 lives.

“Escalating violence in the past few months has put a severe strain on the ceasefire,” Mr. Annan said, adding that such violence was once again being felt by the civilian population.

He strongly urged the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE “to shore up the ceasefire, ensure respect for the human rights of all Sri Lankans, and urgently resume their dialogue under the facilitation of the Norwegian Government,” Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

“A return to conflict will not resolve outstanding differences between the parties,” he stressed.

Last month, clashes between the LTTE and Sri Lanka’s military reportedly left more than twenty soldiers and civilians dead and in August Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, a Tamil who had joined the Government, was shot to death in Colombo.

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