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* UN Security Council says Sri Lanka has a legitimate right to combat LTTE terrorism
Thu, May 14, 2009, 10:45 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 14, Colombo: Strongly condemning the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for its acts of terrorism over many years, the United Nations Security Council said the Sri Lankan government has a legitimate right to combat terrorism in the country.

At the request of the European Union members of the UN Security Council, UK, France and Austria, the Council held an informal meeting on Sri Lanka on Wednesday at the UN headquarters in New York and issued a strongly worded press statement. The Council strongly condemned the LTTE for its acts of terrorism over many years, and for its continued use of civilians as human shields, and acknowledged the legitimate right of the Government of Sri Lanka to combat terrorism.

It further demanded the LTTE to lay down its arms and allow the tens of thousands of civilians still in the conflict zone to leave.

The members of the Security Council expressing their deep concern over reported use of heavy weapons in the conflict zone said they expect the Sri Lankan government to fulfill its promise not to use heavy weapons.

The Sri Lankan government has repeatedly denied firing heavy weapons into the no-fire zone where thousands of civilians are held as human shields by the LTTE.

The Security Council demanded that both warring parties respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.

The Council called on the government to cooperate with the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and other international humanitarian organizations to ensure the security of the displaced and provide the humanitarian agencies access to the civilians.

The Council expressed support to UN Secretary-General for his personal involvement in the humanitarian crisis and urged the Sri Lankan government to find a long-term political solution.

When asked whether the Council consider including Sri Lanka in its agenda, the Permanent Representative of the UK, John Sawers said what is important at this stage is to get a unanimous message across to both the government and the LTTE and there is no need to resort to measures that would divide the Council.

Russia, China, Japan and Viet Nam had been against a move to put Sri Lanka on the agenda.

Permanent Representative of Austria, Thomas Mayr-Harting said that the Sri Lankan government has a right to defend itself against terrorism but both sides must follow the international humanitarian law. He said at the end there is no military solution to the conflict and a long term political solution is needed.

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