2ND LEAD (Corrections)
Colombo sabotages sea-transport, insisting on inapplicable procedures- Puleedevan
[TamilNet, Saturday, 15 April 2006, 10:51 GMT]
The LTTE had only agreed to transportation in "civilian vessel" and the arrangement, as promised by the new Head of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, was to be an "exclusive and extra-ordinary SLMM arrangement." Further, the LTTE had repeatedly made it clear that there could be no SLN escort or interference in the civil transportation. "This was a crucial issue agreed and guaranteed by the SLMM Head. Sri Lanka Navy attempted to override the SLMM arrangement with a procedure agreed for the transportation of LTTE owned military vessels in 2003," clarified Mr.S. Puleedevan, the director of LTTE's Peace Secretariat.
The 2003 procedure was a technical arrangement which applies to LTTE owned military vessels (gunboats). The arrangement allows Sri Lanka Navy, with SLMM facilitation, to observe LTTE military vessels from a minimum distance of 3 nautical miles beyond the 5 nautical mile zone where LTTE operates.
This procedure would have applied, and that is what LTTE had been asking for, for transporting their commanders in their own vessels with SLMM presence.
But, this request was turned down. Without the sea-transport and the air-transport, the LTTE could not proceed with the preparations to Geneva Talks.
Head of SLMM arranged an exclusive civilian boat transport to resolve the dispute. And the parties agreed on a date for the talks in Geneva.
After the date was agreed, at 8.30 p.m. Friday, the Sri Lankan Peace Secretariat (SCOPP), suddenly, "out of the blue," informed the Liberation Tigers that the procedure for LTTE military vessel based transport will apply to today's sea-transport arrangement , Puleedvan said.
He further said the LTTE, immediately upon receiving the message Friday night, turned down the suggestion from the SCOPP.
"Insisting on new conditions through fax few hours before the transport was to take place, and overriding the previously agreed procedures is not acceptable to us. This is a matter of principle and integrity," Mr. Puleedevan told TamiNet after returning to Kilinochchi from Mullaithivu.