Business leaders court UNP

[TamilNet, Monday, 26 October 1998, 20:06 GMT]
The ICRC declined an informal request by the leaders of the Sri Lankan business community to take relief supplies donated by them to the people living in areas of the Vanni region which are under the control of the Liberation Tigers. Meanwhile a delegation of Sri Lanka's top businessmen met the UNP leader Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo this evening.

The business leaders were acting on what they had told Mr.Kumar Ponnambalam, the Gen. Sec. of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress - a minor Tamil political entity based in Colombo.

Mr. Ponnambalam had suggested at the meeting convened on last Thursday (October 22) by the country's top business organisations to find a speedy and peaceful resolution of the ethnic conflict that the most urgent need of the hour was to send relief supplies to the Vanni.

ranil_wickramasinghe_5-p.gifThe business leaders had initially approached Mr. Ponnambalam about the supplies they were prepared to send sources said. Later they had contacted the ICRC.

The business leaders met the UNP leader Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe at his official residence in Colombo this evening at 4 p.m. as part of their effort to forge a national consensus towards a peaceful resolution of the ethnic conflict.

The delegation of Sri Lanka's top businessmen was led by Lalith Kotalawela, the chairman of the Ceylinco Group of companies.

Key figures in the UNP, Colombo Mayor Karu Jayasuriya, Mr.A.C.S Hammed MP, Mr.Ronnie de Mel MP and K.N Choksy MP, were also present at this discussion said party sources.

The UNP leader assured the businessmen that his party would support their effort and was neither against peace nor had it ever interfered in the conduct of the war.

Mr. Wickremesinghe agreed at this discussion to appoint two UNP members to the national committee that the business leaders want to promote with a view to preparing the ground for a dialogue between all the main players in the island's politics, including the Liberation Tigers.

The UNP boycotted the meeting convened on by Sri Lanka's business leaders on October 22, as the party was ulteriorly apprehensive that the forum could be a trap sprung on them with the connivance of the government.


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