Australia calls for political reforms to end conflict

Australia today called on Sri Lanka to present “credible political reforms” to end the conflict and expressed grave concern over the worsening humanitarian crisis in the island’s north.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith also asked the LTTE to lift all restrictions on civilians living in rebel-held areas amid allegations that the guerrillas are holding them as human shields.

“There can be no justification for preventing free movement of civilians from the conflict zone,” he said in a statement sent here. “We encourage the Sri Lankan diaspora to add weight to this call to prevent further loss of life.”

Australia, which designates the LTTE a terrorist organisation, has a large Sri Lankan community, including ethnic Tamils.

“Australia again calls on the Sri Lankan government to put forward credible political reforms to engage Tamils and other minorities without delay,” Smith said.

“A political solution that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Sri Lankans is essential for the long-term security and prosperity of Sri Lanka.”

The minister said arrangements must be put in place urgently to allow the safe passage of civilians from the shrinking war zone, where government forces are leading their biggest ever offensive against the Tigers.

“As long as civilians remain in the conflict zone, both sides have an obligation to ensure that hostilities are not conducted in a way which endangers civilian life,” he said.

Source : AFP

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