Solheim meets Kumaratunge, sides no closer to agreement

[TamilNet, Friday, 28 May 2004, 01:42 GMT]
Sri Lanka President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge Thursday evening held two hour long discussion with the visiting Norwegian special peace envoy Mr. Erik Solheim on the prospects of holding peace talks. Sri Lanka Government and the Liberation Tigers are not close to an agreement on the time and modality of resuming the peace process, political sources in Colombo said.

Foreign Minister Mr.Lakshman Kadirgamar, Peace Secretariat Secretary General Mr.Jayantha Dhanapala and Foreign Secretary Mr.S.Pallikhara accompanied Ms. Kumaratunge in the talks.

Sri Lanka's Norwegian ambassador Mr. Hans Brattskar attended the meeting along with Mr.Solheim, sources said.

This was the first meeting with Ms.Kumaratunge since Mr. Erik Solheim arrived in Colombo Monday, sources said.

The talks centred on the outcome of the talks Mr.Solehim had with LTTE leadership in Kilinochchi on Wednesday, sources said.

The LTTE's Head of the Political Wing, S.P.Thamilchelvan, after meeting Mr.Solheim, explained to the press the position of LTTE that "institutionalization of the Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) should precede first before commencing talks on the core issues."

The LTTE articulated this position as a response to earlier Sri Lanka Government's proposal that the core issues be discussed in parallel to the discussion on the ISGA.

Mr.Solheim brought to the notice of the President that the LTTE has been committed to the ceasefire agreement and was for the resumption of peace talks from where it was left, sources said.

Ms.Chandrika Kumaratunge is reported to have informed Norwegian facilitators that her government is prepared to resume talks with the LTTE but expressed her stand on the procedure. Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge and peace envoy discussed the question of preparing the agenda for the resumption of peace talks, sources said.

Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge revealed the government position in this regard during the discussion.

Norwegian facilitators agreed to continue the discussion later.

Norwegian facilitators are expected to return to Kilinochchi Friday or later to convey the outcome of the talks they had with Ms.Kumaratunge and to convey the stand of the Sri Lanka government in preparing the agenda for future talks, sources said.

While in the opposition, Sri Lanka's President Kumaratunge and her advisor Lakshman Kadirgamar rejected the ISGA saying that is a step towards a separate state.


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