Paramilitaries, lack of aid agreement blocking talks - Balasingham
[TamilNet, Monday, 14 February 2005, 20:50 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers’ political strategist and chief negotiator, Mr. Anton Balasingham, told Norwegian facilitators Monday that the Sri Lankan government had to take steps to restore confidence in the peace process, in particular by disarming paramilitaries working alongside its armed forces and establish a joint mechanism with the LTTE for post-tsunami aid, sources said.
Mr. Balasingham told a Norwegian delegation comprising Special Envoy Mr. Erik Solheim and Foreign Ministry official Ms. Lisa Golden which met him in London Monday that the Sri Lankan government had to create a conducive and congenial atmosphere if the peace talks were to resume in the near future.
“The Sri Lankan government needs to contribute to a conducive and congenial climate for the resumption of peace talks in two specific ways. Firstly, it should disarm the paramilitary forces functioning with the Army or integrate them into its armed forces and station them outside the North-East," Mr. Balasingham reportedly said.
These were already stipulated in the Ceasefire Agreement of February 2002, Mr. Balasingham pointed out.
“The government needs to do this with immediate effect,” Mr. Balasingham said, expressing the LTTE’s condemnation in the strongest possible terms of killing of the head of the movement’s Political Wing in Batticaloa-Amparai and his team last Monday. They were killed in Sri Lanka Army controlled areas whilst returning from Kilinochchi.
"The other aspect of creating a conducive climate for peace talks is that the government should end its intransigence in creating a joint mechanism with the LTTE to distribute post-tsunami relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance as soon as possible," Mr. Balasingham said.
"We don't see any sign of effort on the part of the government in creating such a conducive climate for the resumption of peace talks," Mr. Balasingham had said.
The Norwegian officials met with Mr. Balasingham for three hours at his London residence. Their discussions focused on how to resume the stalled negotiations and the urgent need to establish a joint mechanism to distribute the post-tsunami international assistance, the sources said.
Mr. Solheim is scheduled to fly to Colombo on February 20th on a five-day official visit, sources in Colombo said.