Conditions for peace talks

[TamilNet, Sunday, 06 September 1998, 13:16 GMT]
Prof. G.L Pieris, Sri Lanka's Minister for Constitutional Affairs, said yesterday that the Sri Lankan government can initiate talks with the Liberation Tigers only if it reaches an understanding with the main opposition party, the United National Party, on fundamental issues concerning the ethnic question.

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He was addressing a workshop on the Northern Ireland peace process for ruling party MPs, ministers and 'intellectuals' at Wadduwa, 24 kilometers south of Colombo. Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam MP, TULF (national list) presided.

The workshop, according to government sources, was organized in connection with the visit of the Ulster University Professor Grant Frazer.

He said that the PA regime chose not to follow up on the Liam Fox initiative because the UNP had stated ten days after agreeing on it that it considered the matter as an agreement to begin a dialogue with the Liberation Tigers but not as an understanding on the government's peace package.

The minister said that the PA regime was ready to renew the British peace initiative if the UNP was ready to resume the process.

The senior PA minister's observations come amidst speculation that the UNP is preparing the ground for an unconditional dialogue with the Liberation Tigers in the west.

The PA regime, according to some political analysts in Colombo, has become concerned in recent weeks that the UNP's position on peace talks with the Tigers might turn its dwindling support among the minority Tamils in favour of the opposition.

The minority vote was a crucial in bringing the PA to power at the last elections.

 

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