Church expresses concern over foreign troops in Lanka
The Anglican church of Sri Lanka has expressed concern over alarming long term consequences if a time frame is not set for the withdrawal of foreign military personnel from Sri Lanka.

Amidst reports that some 1,650 US marines have already come here and with a government official reportedly saying they may stay on for two years, Colombo's Bishop Duleep de Chickera in a statement said:

"There is growing concern about the presence of foreign military personnel for relief work. Undoubtedly, these personnel are trained to respond quickly and professionally and can be easily mobilised when disasters happen. Being mindful however of current geo-politics and power struggles that particularly threaten and exploit the more vulnerable countries, it is imperative that once the task of relief is complete, these military personnel should return to their home base. While we appreciate their present humanitarian assistance, it would be a serious mistake with alarming consequences if those who arrive for humanitarian purposes become entrenched into a politico-military agenda".

Comenting on the controversy over UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's abortive move to visit LTTE-controlled areas, the Bishop said:

"A visit by Mr. Annan to the LTTE-controlled areas would no doubt have involved major political and security hurdles. But overcoming them together would have required collaboration between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE which would have contributed immensely towards the building of political trust. The two parties could have this way learnt new lessons and demonstrated their potential to work together.

It would have sent a clear message to the people of this country and the international community that the Government and the LTTE are both seriously committed to peace and that all Sri Lankans whether or not affected by the tsunami disaster and regardless of where they reside, should be the real recipients of rehabilitation and the inheritors of sustainable peace".

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