"The four co-chairs are the four co-chairs"-
says Japanese peace envoy for Sri Lanka, Yasushi Akashi
United News of India Report, 12 December 2005
"The four co-chairs are the four co-chairs. But we would
very much like to engage in continuous and substantive discussions and
exchange of views with the government of India, which obviously carries a
very considerable influence in this region. We have been thinking and
talking with India how best we could deal with each other" -
The co-chairs of Sri Lanka's donor community — the US, Japan,
Norway and the European Union — will meet in Brussels on December 19 to review
the peace process in the island nation after an escalation in violence that
threatens to undermine the fragile truce between the government and Tamil Tiger
"In Brussels we will certainly be engaged in a fundamental analysis of the
situation on the prospects of peace in Sri Lanka.... We will take stock of the
situation and determine the kind of role the co-chairs might be able to play in
this situation," visiting Japanese peace envoy for Sri Lanka, Yasushi Akashi
told reporters here today.
In a reference to the claymore mine blasts that left at least 15 soldiers killed
in the Northern Jaffna peninsula and sporadic clashes in the restive East, he
said the potential danger of sudden escalation has drawn the attention of the
international community, especially the co-chairs as to what could happen in the
"The deterioration of the situation, the potential danger of sudden escalation
of violence and very delicate state in which the parties are engaged in a
comprehensive review, I think the co-chairs are paying a lot of attention as to
what is happening and what could happen in Sri Lanka," Akashi said.
Asked on the possibility of India serving as a partner in the donor co-chairs,
Mr. Akashi said that the question did not arise "based on the historical fact
that four co-chairs chaired Tokyo conference on the reconstruction and
development of Sri Lanka in June 2003".
"The four co-chairs are the four co-chairs. But we would very
much like to engage in continuous and substantive discussions and exchange of
views with the government of India, which obviously carries a very considerable
influence in this region. We have been thinking and talking with India how best
we could deal with each other," Akashi, who will attend the Brussels meeting on
behalf of Japan, said.
The co-chairs have been constantly warning that global attention could shift to
other struggling nations if the parties in Sri Lanka failed to make use of the
existing international focus on the island nation to resolve their decades-long
Akashi said in the overall global situation, the attention span of governments
was "notoriously short" while the cry for attention was very high.
"Look at Africa and the Middle-East; there are many serious conflicts and peace
building challenges calling for our attention. However, in the foreseeable
future, Sri Lanka will be one of our priority situations and the question of
attention shifting elsewhere does not arise in the short run," he said.