Norway cannot define talks venue - SL Premier
[TamilNet, Saturday, 30 September 2006, 07:00 GMT]
The role of Norwegian facilitator, fronted by the donor countries, must be limited to that of a "marriage broker," Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake said addressing a public meeting in Matale, in the Central Province, Firday. A "marriage broker" is not empowered to decide the date and venue of the "wedding," he told the gathering. "We are capable of resolving problems through talks within the country and without foreign intervention," Mr. Ratnasiri Wickramanayake said, stating that the talks should be held within the country.
The facilitator's role is to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table, Wickramanayake said.
The date and the venue of the peace talks would have to be decided by the parties and not by anyone else, he said.
"We are not prepared to hand over a portion of the country to another race or community."
"We bring this to the notice of all countries which are providing aid to us."
"This is our country. Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country," the Sri Lankan Prime Minister declared.
"Even now, we are ready to hold talks to find solution to all problems within the concept of undivided country."
A lawyer by profession, Wickremanayake, who entered politics in 1959, has been a well-known Sinhala hardliner who has spoken against the peace process with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Norwegian facilitation, and the February 2002 Ceasefire Agreement.
Wickramanayake had earlier introduced a much disputed draft for anti-conversion bill in June 2004 after he was appointed Minister of Buddhist Affairs, Public Security, Law and Order. The draft sparked protests as violating major UN declarations and covenants.
He has also held the position of General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).