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US welcomes steps toward peace in Sri Lanka

By Staff
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Washington, Feb 23 (UNI) The United States has lauded the recent steps by the Lankan Government and the rebels towards achieving a peaceful future in the island nation and urged them to be open minded and flexible in their approach.

In a statement issued here yesterday, the US State Department and the other Co-Chairs of the Tokyo Donors' Conference -- Japan, the European Union and Norway, welcomed the February 22-23 talks in Geneva between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and a reduction of violence in recent weeks.

The United States also thanked Norway for its ''invaluable assistance'' in facilitating the peace talks and hoped that the talks would give an opportunity to restore confidence in the Ceasefire Agreement and move forward toward a peaceful future.

The statement urged the parties to approach the opportunity for peace with an open and flexible attitude.

Sri Lanka's Tamil minority have been in armed conflict with the majority Sinhalese Government in Colombo since the 1970s, seeking to establish an autonomous region in northeastern Sri Lanka. The LTTE has been the leading force in that conflict since the 1980s.

The State Department has designated the LTTE as a foreign terrorist organization.

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