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Sri Lanka

Volume 455: debated on Monday 15 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate she has made of the number of civilian deaths arising from the recent conflict in Sri Lanka; what action she is taking to encourage dialogue between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam; and what assessment she has made of the current status of the 2001 ceasefire agreement. (114210)

We monitor the number of casualties closely. In 2006 there were approximately 1,000 civilian deaths. Between 1 and 10 January this year there were over 40 civilian deaths.

The UK engages with all parties to the conflict to support the peace process. We encourage our EU and international partners to do likewise. The visit in November 2006 by my right hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Paul Murphy), a former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and his subsequent meetings with President Rajapakse, representatives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and other participants of the peace process is an example of our continued engagement.

While it is clearly under increasing pressure the signatories have not withdrawn from the 2002 Cease-Fire Agreement. It remains the agreed framework for the negotiation of a settlement to resolve the Sri Lanka conflict. We continue to call on the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE to observe their commitments under the Cease-Fire Agreement and demonstrate this by ceasing hostilities, ending human rights abuses and bloodshed, and creating an atmosphere for constructive discussions to further the peace process. We fully support and are in close contact with the Norwegian Government in their work to facilitate a peaceful and sustainable solution that satisfies the legitimate demands of all Sri Lankans and promotes stability, democracy and respect for human rights in the country.