2nd Lead (add details of Thamilchelvan press briefing)
British envoy meets Thamilchelvan
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 09 March 2004, 11:09 GMT]
The British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Mr. Steven Evans and other British officials met with LTTE's Head of Political Wing, S.P.Thamilchelvan in Kilinochchi today and discussed matters related to the current situation in Batticaloa, delivery of humanitarian assistance and voting issues in the forthcoming general elections, the LTTE peace secretariat website said.
The British team included Mrs. Mandeep Kaur-Grewal, Head of the Development section, Mr. Steve Ainsworth, Security Sector Transformation Advisor, and Lt. Col. Mark Weldon, Defence Attache. Mr. Puleedevan, Secretary General of the LTTE Peace Secretariat, attended the discussions with Thamilchelvan.
Thamilchelvan briefed the High Commissioner on the prevailing political situation in Batticaloa-Amparai precipitated by the renegade former commander Karuna, the website said.
Mr.Evans discussed at lenght the humanitarian assistance to the war affected people of the NorthEast and expressed confidence in the steps taken by the World Bank in formulating a mechanism for the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Referring to the general elections Mr. Evans reiterated the necessity to ensure a fair and free election enabling the voters full freedom of mobility to exercise their franchise.
Excerpts from the exchanges between Thamilchelvan and reporters after the meeting with British Envoy follow:Reporter:
Can you give us an update on the Batticaloa crisis?
People in Batticaloa-Amparai are fast becoming aware of the real reasons behind the revolt by the single individual Karuna. We are explaining to the people our Leader's and general leadership's stand on the crisis using the different media and channels available to us. It is beginning to work.Reporter:
Can you tell us if anything was discussed related to allowing people to vote in the no-man's area?
People who are living in the areas controlled by our movement should have the opportunity to exercise their franchise. In the current climate of peace and ceasfire agreement being strictly adhered to by the parties, people have the right to express their aspirations. We stressed the need for the Sri Lanka Government to respect this right. High Commissioner agreed that the International community is aware of the importance of this fundamental democratic event and said that they will work with the Sri Lanka Government to create a conducive environment to allow voting to happen.Reporter:
Can you comment on the reports that Col.Pathuman has been killed?
You are welcomed to meet him today if you are interested. He met with several reporters yesterday. Instead of responding to contemptible and absurd allegations from Karuna [laughs], we would rather spend our efforts in productive endeavors in strengthening the Tamil nation and ensuring a solid future for the Tamil people. We also urge the media people like you to commit yourselves weed out rumors and propaganda to help people to know the true situation.Reporter:
There are reports that LTTE has dispatched 500 cadres to Batticaloa. What can you tell us about that?
There is no need for us send such a group. There are thousands of our troops already stationed in that region. The traitorous acts and his actions against the Tamil National struggle are beginning to haunt him. That is why, I believe, Karuna is behaving irrationally. Thank you.