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DateLine Sunday, 30 September 2007

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Attempts to block aid, loans will not succeed

President tells Lankan expats in Los Angeles

Attempts by certain elements to stop aid and loans granted to Sri Lanka by donor countries and international banks will not succeed, President Mahinda Rajapaksa asserted on Friday.

"They have labelled Sri Lanka as a failed state. They are protesting opposite international banks asking them not to grant loans to the country. They try to paint a false picture of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka to stop the flow of aid. But their attempts have failed as the international community has placed their confidence in us," President Rajapaksa told a large gathering of Sri Lankans in Los Angeles.

The President was addressing a ceremony organised by the Sri Lankan community to welcome him, at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Centre, California State University, Long Beach.

He said the Government was committed to protecting human rights. Many baseless allegations have been levelled against the Government on human rights violations. As a proponent of human rights, he would never abandon his commitment to human rights.

He said the Government was not thriving on the war. A negotiated political settlement remains the Government's ultimate goal. "We have never forgotten the concept of One Sri Lanka, whereby all communities can live together in harmony. "Efforts made by the previous Governments for a political solution failed because they did not get public support for their proposals. We have received a mandate to evolve a political solution.

We will devolve power to the people. The All Party Representative Committee is finalising its proposal, which should be out soon."

He said the APRC would hopefully present a solution that does not divide the county.

The President commended the Sri Lankan Security Forces for their "exceptional discipline". Civilian casualties were not reported during the Eastern humanitarian missions.

He told the expatriate Sri Lankans that the Government has started a series of development projects amid the war. It is also raising its own funds for a number of projects. "But we need international help to rebuild the liberated East."

One of the main planks of Government policy was developing the villages to match the economic growth rate of the Western province, he said. "Some want to block development. But it is an irreversible step. I have taken bold decisions on Norochcholai and Upper Kotmale. These steps will avert a projected power crisis."

He stressed the importance of moulding good citizens who cherish moral values. "That is even more important than just gaining knowledge. This is why the Government has introduced a program called Mathata Thitha for alcohol, drug abuse eradication."

The President called upon the expatriates to support Lanka in its forward march.

Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona and Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the US Bernard Goonetilleke were present.

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