ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 29

Australia may ban LTTE says Downer

From Neville de Silva in London

Australia is seriously considering banning the LTTE, the country's foreign minister Alexander Downer said in London.

Mr. Downer said that in the past two weeks Australian authorities have had discussions concerning the LTTE and a decision was expected to be taken shortly.

The foreign minister who was in London to attend a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) that suspended Fiji from the organisation following the military takeover there, said Australian intelligence services had monitored the activities of some Tamil charities that had used the cover to illegally raise funds for the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

"We are now considering banning the LTTE," Mr. Downer told the Sunday Times after a talk he gave the International Institute of Strategic Studies on terrorism and Islamic extremism.

Mr Downer said his speech titled "Ideas as weapons: Meeting the ideological challenge of extremism," dealt only with Islamic extremism but he said that other forms of terrorism did exist and needed to be dealt with.

Diplomatic sources said recent developments in Sri Lanka such as the attempted assassination of the defence secretary and the escalating violence were among the factors that caused the Australian authorities to consider tough measures against the LTTE.

If Canberra goes ahead with a ban on the LTTE it will join others such as the United States, Britain, the European Union, Canada and India that had done so earlier.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.