Threatening to list the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as a terrorist organisation, the European Union, on Tuesday, said its member states will no longer receive the rebel delegations because of continued violence by Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.
In a sternly-worded statement, the EU condemned the LTTE for its 'continuing use of violence and terrorism', recruitment of children as soldiers and the recent spate of killings, including that of Sri Lankan foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.
"The pursuit of political goals by such totally unacceptable methods only serves to damage the LTTE's standing and credibility as a negotiating partner and gravely endangers the peace process," the EU statement said, adding it was "actively considering the formal listing of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation."
EU member states will no longer receive rebel delegations while curbs will be imposed on the activities of the LTTE, its sympathisers and allied groups, it said.
The statement also raised the issue of the children abducted by the rebels, saying the EU was concerned about 'the continuing recruitment and retention of child soldier cadres by the LTTE and reminds them that there can be no excuse whatsoever for this abhorrent practice to continue.'
The LTTE is observing a ceasefire with the Sri Lankan government but has been accused by the Scandinavian truce monitors of violating the four-year-old agreement on several occasions.
Besides assassinating Kadirgamar, the rebels have been charged with gunning down members of rival groups and security force and police personnel. Peace talks between the government and the LTTE broke down in 2003 and have been not been revived despite frantic lobbying by Norway, which is facilitating the effort.
The EU statement is the strongest to be issued in recent times and comes close on the heels of the July bombings in London. The United Kingdom, India and the United States have already branded the LTTE as a foreign terrorist group while Canada and Australia have restricted the group's activities in those countries.
The organisation called on the rebels to "demonstrate their commitment to the peace process and their willingness to change."