US encourages European Union to ban Tamil Tigers

The United States on Tuesday encouraged the European Union to list Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels as terrorists, as spiraling violence pushes the Indian Ocean island country toward a resumption of civil war.

Asked by reporters about the U.S. position on the EU possibly putting the Tigers on a terrorist list, American official Donald Camp said, "We have encouraged the EU to list the LTTE," according to an interview transcript provided by the U.S. Embassy.

Camp, deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian, was using the initials of the guerrillas' formal name, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

"We think the LTTE is very deserving of that label. We think it will help cut off financial supplies and weapons procurement," Camp said, according to the transcript of an interview by state television station Rupavahini, and privately owned Maharaja Television.

"I think the LTTE should reassess its methods and abandon terrorism. That's the only way it can have a future in a united Sri Lanka," Camp said in the transcript.

Washington officially listed the Tigers as terrorists in 1997.

On Tuesday, Camp urged Sri Lanka's government to investigate unresolved killings of ethnic Tamil civilians in the country's volatile north and east.

"There needs to be investigations and there needs to be prosecutions," he said in the transcript.

During earlier meetings with Sri Lankan officials and politicians, Camp urged immediate peace talks between the government and the Tigers, said U.S. Embassy spokesman Philip Frayne.

Camp met with Sri Lanka's foreign and defense ministers and leaders of the Tamil National Alliance party largely seen as a proxy of Tamil Tiger rebels.

The Tamil Tiger rebels began fighting in 1983 to create a homeland for the country's 3.2 million ethnic Tamil minority in the country's north and east, claiming discrimination by the majority Sinhalese.

Surging violence has killed dozens in recent days, raising fears that a 2002 cease-fire could collapse and re-ignite a civil war.

Last month, a Tiger suicide bomber targeted the army chief, and rebel suicide boats attacked a naval convoy last week, killing dozens.

Dozens of Tamil civilians have also been killed in government-controlled areas, often under shadowy circumstances. The government and rebels accuse each other for the killings, reports AP.

O.Ch.