External Affairs Minister Professor G.L Peiris says the army is not a killing machine and it’s a misconception to assume that.He says many, including the UN, have found the military to be useful and the work they have done in regards to construction of houses and roads is a very good step in the transition from conflicts to stability. In an interview with the Voice of Russia the Minister said that the army has also been trained to take humanitarian functions as different situations demand. He also insisted that the government wants to further scale down the military presence in the North but it would be a step by step process. “The general trend of direction is clear, we would like to reduce the military presence there as we move along, but the exigency may vary in different parts of the country. So you should take into account the contextual consideration. Certainly, we want to scale it down, but we would do that in a manner that is appropriate for a particular situation. One of the most important things is that people themselves want the army to play this role of an assistant,” he said.Minister Peiris also said that next month the people of the North will be able to elect members of their provincial council and the government is looking forward to that and any other event that is going to enrich the democratic process in Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette)
“He is encouraged by recent efforts by the two countries to build confidence in their relations and to address outstanding problems,” Mr. Annan said in a statement released by his spokesman, in which he offered his own help.”The Secretary-General is following with interest the recent proposal by India of a number of confidence-building measures and Pakistan’s response to them,” the statement added. “He urges the two countries to continue these efforts with patience and resolve. The Secretary-General remains at their disposal to assist in any way they consider mutually beneficial.” Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since the two countries won independence from the United Kingdom more than 50 years ago.