Statement by Minister Cannon on Recent Developments in Sri Lanka

(No. 135 - May 19, 2009)The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement concerning recent developments in the conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam:

"Canadians are very concerned about the aftermath of the military action in Sri Lanka and the appalling effect it has had on civilians. This terrible, decades-long war has inflicted untold devastation and heartbreak on Sri Lankans. The Government of Canada wishes to express its concerns about civilian casualties, and to convey its condolences to the people of Sri Lanka and those around the world who have lost friends and family members in this horrific conflict.

"I spoke yesterday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to discuss the situation in Sri Lanka. We agreed that there is a need for the international community to coordinate assistance and support to the people of Sri Lanka, and that it will be important to work with the international community in urging the Government of Sri Lanka to cooperate with these efforts.

"We will work together to support the United Nations in providing humanitarian assistance. We call on the Government of Sri Lanka to give the United Nations and other international humanitarian agencies immediate access to internally displaced persons. Canada remains concerned about the fate of civilians.

"Canada urges the Government of Sri ;Lanka to begin to find a long-term political solution that responds to the legitimate aspirations of all the people of Sri Lanka. Canada is prepared to assist Sri Lankan efforts to find political reconciliation and a lasting peace."

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