Co-chairs say want talks in early October
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 12 September 2006, 14:59 GMT]
Representatives of Co-Chairs of Sri Lanka’s donors said Tuesday they had received “signals” from the Liberation Tigers and the Colombo government that they were ready for talks “without preconditions,” and urged both parties to meet “urgently” in Oslo in early October, saying the Co-chairs would review the progress of the talks later that month. “The international community insisted that the two parties sit immediately and also stop the violence,” Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim told the BBC’s Sinhala service.
Representatives of the United States, European Union, Japan and Norway met in Brussels to discuss the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka where heavy fighting has all but destroyed the February 2002 Ceasefire Agreement (CFA).
Mr. Erik Solheim
"We got today the expression of willingness, we got signals from the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, to come to talks unconditionally," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner was quoted as saying.
Provided both sides agree, she said, "the meeting should take place urgently, at the beginning of October in Oslo."
LTTE officials could not be reached for comment while the government of Mahinda Rajapakse is also yet to respond.
But asked about talks earlier Tuesday the head of the LTTE’s Political Wing, Mr. S. P. Thamilchelvan said: “The LTTE is ready for talks. However, the opportunities for resuming the talks will be much stronger when the Sri Lankan government ceases its military attacks and all the CFA articles are fully respected and implemented.”
Ms. Benita Ferrero-Waldner
Ms. Ferrero-Waldner called on both sides to immediately end the violence, which she said was damaging prospects for lasting peace.
"There is a huge challenge, we want both sides back to the table," she said, adding the EU has decided to send experts to Sri Lanka to assist the government with human rights issues.
We rejoice at the announcement conveyed by both the government and LTTE to our Norwegian facilitator that they are willing to come to talks without any conditions," Japan’s Special Envoy Yasushi Akashi was quoted by AP as saying.
Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim told BBC’s Sinhala Service, Sandeshaya, that both parties informed the facilitators of their willingness to come back to the table.
“The international community insisted that the two parties sit immediately and also stop the violence,” Mr. Solheim told bbcsinhala.com.
The Co-chairs have urged the government to stop military operations “with immediate effect” and the LTTE to stop violence against the Sri Lankan security forces, reports said.