France, Britain urge Sri Lanka to avoid heavy weapons
France and Britain joined forces Friday to urge Sri Lanka to live up to its commitments and avoid using heavy artillery in its endgame push against Tamil Tiger rebels.PARIS - France and Britain joined forces Friday to urge Sri Lanka to live up to its commitments and avoid using heavy artillery in its endgame push against Tamil Tiger rebels.
In a letter addressed to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse released by Paris, Bernard Kouchner and David Miliband warned that "there have been a number of reports that your security forces have not lived up to these commitments."
Sri Lanka announced on 27 April that it was halting the use of heavy weapons and air strikes to spare civilian lives in its battle against the Tamil Tigers, but said it was not calling a truce.
"The use of aerial bombing is a very clear contravention of the commitments that you and your Government have given," Kouchner and Miliband's letter continued.
"We urge you again to stop the use of such weapons, to accept a humanitarian truce in order to find a way to get humanitarian assistance to the many civilians still in the conflict zone."
According to a draft statement ahead of a Monday meeting of foreign ministers from the 27 EU nations, Brussels is to make a fresh appeal to the government of Sri Lanka.
They will call on them to refrain from a "final assault which will result in further loss of life and to take, without delay, all necessary steps to facilitate the evacuation of the civilians trapped in the conflict zone."
Whether they would get the chance to issue the call remained unclear as the Sri Lankan government vowed earlier Friday to capture all Tamil Tiger-held territory within 48 hours.
Hundreds have been reported killed in indiscriminate shelling over the past week, adding to the thousands left dead since the rebels were pushed into a corner at the start of the year.