Powell writes to CBK, Ranil

US Secretary of State Collin Powell on Friday wrote to both President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe calling for an early resumption of the peace process and settlement to the political impasse in Sri Lanka.

The U.S. Secretary of State wrote a single page letter each to the President and Prime Minister but the terminology used in the two letters were different, it is learnt.

The letters were to be delivered by U.S. Ambassador in Colombo Jeffrey Lunstead to both the President and Prime Minister, Friday.

The two letters by Powell follow a meeting, Economic Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda had with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage earlier in the week.

The sentiments expressed by Powell in his letters it is also learnt largely reflect the views expressed by Armitage to Moragoda.

The Sunday Leader learns the U.S. Secretary of State in his letter to the President praises the President for commencing the peace process but notes, she should not allow political infighting to stand in the way of the peace process moving forward.

It as further learnt, there is no reference to political infighting in the letter to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.

Both letters however refer to the importance of breaking the current political deadlock and resuming the peace talks at the earliest with an assurance of continued U.S. support.

Armitage earlier in the week told Moragoda the current political crisis was precipitated in Colombo while Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was in Washington and that it would have a negative impact on the peace process.

The statement of Armitage, diplomatic sources said, inferred President Kumaratunga was responsible for the current political crisis due to her precipitate action in Colombo while Wickremesinghe was in Washington. Powell’s reference to infighting in the letter to Kumaratunga is to also convey the same message, sources said.

Armitage had also called for a clarification of responsibilities that would enable the Prime Minister to resume the peace process, once again inferring there should be a return to the November 3 status quo.

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