Sri Lanka - Foreign policy



Although there have been problems with India in the past, particularly because of Indian government support of the Tamils in the 1980s, Sri Lanka generally maintains cordial relations with its neighbors in South Asia. After being burned by its abortive peacekeeping efforts in Sri Lanka, the Indian government became reluctant to get involved with the Sri Lankan conflict. Kumaratunga's peace efforts are welcomed by India, which is facing its own secessionist struggles in Kashmir and some of its northeastern states. India and Sri Lanka have recently worked to improve trade and transport links, planning a ferry service between the countries.

In October 2001, as part of its "War on Terror" the United States redesignated the LTTE as a terrorist organization. The LTTE has been on and off the US government's terrorist list since 1997. LTTE terrorist activities, generally aimed at destabilizing Sri Lanka politically and economically, have included assassination of politicians, including the assassination of the industrial development minister by suicide bombing in June 2000; bombing of economic targets such as the central bank in January 1996, Colombo's World Trade Center in October 1997, and the Sri Lankan airport in July 2001; as well as attacks on Buddhist religious sites. Even with the terrorist designation, the US has approved of the Sri Lankan government's negotiations with the LTTE, although the United States has criticized violations of the cease-fire by the LTTE. In May 2003, US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca met with Sri Lankan leaders and encouraged the Prime Minister and President to work together so as to not jeopardize the peace process.

Sri Lanka was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and hosted its 1976 summit. Kumaratunga's efforts to democratize the political and social structure, investigate human rights violations, and bring peace to the island have been supported by the global community. Sri Lanka is a member of the Commonwealth, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, and the Colombo Plan.

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Jul 10, 2007 @ 3:03 am
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