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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative > Oslo Peace Support Meeting > LTTE wont forsake violence
LTTE won’t forsake violence
Sri Lanka Island, 27 November 2002
Monday, November 25, OSLO, Norway (Reuters) — The LTTE has rejected a face-to-face U.S. appeal at a conference in Norway to renounce violence and said it was "totally unacceptable" for Washington to label it terrorist for fighting a 19-year separatist war in Sri Lanka.
Tamil Tiger negotiator Anton Balasingham, dismissing a call by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to end the fight for a separate state in the north and east of Sri Lanka, said the rebels had laid down arms under a February truce and were committed to peace talks.
But he told a news conference after a one-day donors’ conference in Oslo that it was still premature to rule out violence after the war in which about 64,000 people have died.
"When the aspirations of our people are met by a political settlement... the violence will automatically come to an end," he said.
"The American version... of the armed struggle as a manifestation of pure violence and terrorism is totally unacceptable." he said.
Armitage, the most senior U.S. official to attend a conference also attended by rebels and the government since the February ceasefire, said earlier that he was "greatly encouraged" by the truce.
"We urge the LTTE to go one step further and add to this commitment a thorough renunciation of terrorism and violence," he told an audience including Balasingham and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Armitage said the rebels should also accept the Colombo government’s sovereignty over all of the country and respect human rights.
The conference raised $60 million to $70 million which Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen said was aimed at encouraging peace talks and plugging gaps until a bigger donors’ conference planned in Japan next year.
Priorities for the new aid will include helping the return of one million people displaced by fighting, clearing mines and aid for child victims of the war.
Among public pledges, Britain promised an extra $12.55 million and the European Union said it would give $17.5 million in 2OO3 as well as food aid.
Balasingham charged in an earlier speech that large parts of the northeast of the country had been devastated by the Sri Lankan army.
Armitage sat in the first row listening to Balasingham’s speech, although Wickremesinghe had left the room for another meeting.
Wickremesinghe and Balasingham met in Oslo on Sunday for the highest level talks since the truce.
Despite Arrnitage’s criticism of the rebels, Balasingham said the U.S. presence was a confirmation that the LTTE was a "crucial partner" in solving the conflict.
Wickremesinghe said he hoped that the drive toward peace might soon be irreversible.
"We would like to see that happening in 2OO3," he said.
The Sri Lankan government and rebels are due to hold a third round of talks in Oslo from December 2 to 5, after two sessions in Thailand this year.