NEED FOR A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT IN SRI LANKA; Congressional Record Vol. 146, No. 67
(House of Representatives - May 25, 2000)

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             NEED FOR A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT IN SRI LANKA

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Shimkus). Under a previous order of the 
House, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, for weeks now, the newspapers have carried 
stories about the recent escalation in the fighting in Sri Lanka, the 
island nation located just to the south of India. Sri Lankan Government 
forces have been battling a violent rebellion by the Liberation Tigers 
of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE, commonly known as The Tigers, a separatist 
organization that the United States has designated a Foreign Terrorist 
Organization. The Tigers' campaign has gone on for 17 years, at a cost 
of tens of thousands of lives. Their goal is the establishment of a 
Tamil Eelam, a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka, to divide this small 
island nation into two ethnic states, a Tamil state and a Sinhalese 
state.
  Last month, the Tigers stepped up their campaign in the Jaffna 
Peninsula in the northern part of the island. The government forces 
have continued to battle the Tigers. Sri Lanka's president, Mrs. 
Chandrika Kumaratunga, has vowed not to surrender to the terrorists and 
not to stand by and allow the partitioning of the country. Instead, the 
government is urging the LTTE to put down their arms and come to the 
negotiating table for good-faith talks aimed at addressing the concerns 
of Tamil people in a peaceful way.
  Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Sri Lankan people, both Sinhalese and 
Tamil alike, reject the idea of dividing their nation into two 
ethnically based, ethnically cleansed homelands. The LTTE by no means 
speaks for all of the Tamil people.
  Indeed, Mr. Speaker, there are Tamil political parties and 
organizations committed to working with the government to achieve a 
higher degree of autonomy through peaceful means. And the government 
has had on the table for a long time a Devolution Plan that would 
recognize the Tamils' legitimate claims. If nothing else, the 
government's plan offers at least a basis for beginning negotiations.
  Mr. Speaker, President Kumaratunga, who is elected as the nation's 
first woman president in 1994, was reelected last December in an 
election in which 73 percent of the eligible voters turned out. In the 
final days of the presidential campaign, she was injured in a terrorist 
attack blamed on the LTTE. That attack took the lives of 22 people and 
left more than 100 injured.
  Yet, despite this attack and despite the recent escalation of 
violence by the LTTE, President Kumaratunga continues to ask the 
separatists to lay down their arms and begin talks.
  In this current crisis, Sri Lanka has reached out to the 
international community to help bring the separatists to the 
negotiating table. Yesterday, President Kumaratunga appealed to India, 
Sri Lanka's democratic neighbor to the north, to facilitate the effort 
to bring the Tamil Tigers to the table. Sri Lankan officials have also 
been meeting with diplomats from Norway in an effort to resume the 
negotiations with the rebels that broke off 5 years ago.
  Next Monday, U.S. Under Secretary of State, Thomas Pickering, will go 
to Sri Lanka where he will meet with government officials and other 
leaders of the other Tamil parties.
  Mr. Speaker, the position of the United States and of India and of 
other Western nations is that this conflict can only be resolved 
through negotiations, and that the solution should preserve the 
territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. The campaign by the LTTE to force 
the break up of Sri Lanka does not have the support of the 
international community, and it must never gain that legitimacy.
  As I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, the U.S. State Department has branded 
the LTTE a terrorist organization. Recently, the parliament of the 
European Union has urged its member nations to take similar steps. The 
Tigers maintained their determination for an outright win militarily, 
but that strategy seems destined only to kill thousands of more people 
by shattering lives in both the Tamil and Sinhalese communities.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge Under Secretary Pickering to continue to make 
clear that this crisis can only be resolved through a political 
solution. We must step up our efforts to work with other international 
friends, including India and Western European nations, to maintain the 
pressure on the LTTE to come to the negotiating table.
  The Tigers should join with the rest of the Tamil community to 
promote the interests of their community through the institutions of 
the united, sovereign, and democratic Sri Lanka.

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