- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2009


The ambassador from Sri Lanka credits President Obama for playing a significant role in bringing an end to a civil war that claimed an estimated 70,000 lives over more than 25 years.

“It is undeniable that the [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] effectively folded shortly after President Barack Obama told the world that the terrorists were holding innocent Tamil civilians as hostages,” Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya said Sunday. “He was one of the few world leaders to note that fact so forcefully.”

Last week, Mr. Obama called on the Tigers to “lay down their arms and let the civilians go.”

“Their forced recruitment of civilians and their use of civilians as human shields is deplorable,” he said. “These tactics will only serve to alienate all those who carry them out.”

Mr. Obama also criticized the Sri Lankan government for the “indiscriminate shelling” of the thin slice of coastal land where the Tigers made their last stand for the past several months. The South Asian government has denied that its troops randomly fired artillery shells into the rebel area.

“The government should stop the indiscriminate shelling that has taken hundreds of innocent lives, including several hospitals, and the government should live up to its commitment to not use heavy weapons in the conflict zone,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Wickramasuriya expressed his government’s gratitude to the United States, which declared the Tigers a terrorist organization in 1997 and shut down Tamil rebel fundraising activities.

“As I reflect on the last few dramatic days in Sri Lanka and the final days of the LTTE, I would like to note with gratitude the influence that the United States has had on this conflict and on Sri Lanka’s future,” he said.


Greek Ambassador Alexandros P. Mallias is drawing praise from many quarters of Washington, as he prepares to return to Athens early next month. The latest came from the floor of the Senate.

Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told his fellow senators that he has enjoyed working with Mr. Mallias since he arrived in Washington in September 2005.

“I rise today to mention the contributions of one ambassador who is leaving Washington and returning to Athens, Greece, to serve his county at the foreign ministry,” the Massachusetts Democrat said last week.

“Ambassador Mallias worked hard to represent Greece and its historic culture - shared by 3 million Americans of Greek descent - to the United States and our government.”

Mr. Kerry noted that the United States and Greece are “strategic partners, working in concert on a host of issues from Afghanistan to anti-piracy operations.”

He added that “we hold in common a long-standing respect for democracy and freedom, whether in Boston or it Athens.”

John Adams, the 18th-century Boston lawyer, revolutionary and second president of the United States, often wrote about the “fruits of Athenian democracy” in reference to the democratic experience of the ancient Greek city-state.

Mr. Kerry noted that Mr. Mallias held frequent meetings with Congress to keep them informed about Greek positions on international issues.

“The ambassador was also involved with think tanks, advocacy groups, grass-roots organizations and universities, traveling widely in the U.S. to engage civic leaders, Greek-Americans, student and other people on important bilateral issues,” Mr. Kerry said.

He added that Mr. Mallias received “numerous commendations,” including the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award for International Service.

“Many of us in Congress will miss his fine work,” he added, “and I wish him the very best.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected] washingtontimes.com.

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