President says mediation tried

[TamilNet, Sunday, 14 November 1999, 08:49 GMT]
The Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunge said in a question and answer session on local television Saturday that her government was not opposed to peace talks with mediation. She was responding to a question why the government had not accepted an offer of mediation from Norway.

President Chandrika said that twenty governments and organisations had offered to mediate in the island's conflict.

chandrika_kumarathunge_3-p.jpgThe Sri Lankan government had suggested three of these to the Liberation Tigers but not had a response, she said.

The Liberation Tigers had three weeks ago informed her they would not continue dialogue to find a suitable mediator she said.

She was revealing this to the Sri Lankan public for the first time, the President said.

However, officials from the opposition United National Party (UNP), speaking on condition of anonymity today dismissed President Chandrikaís statement as an attempt to absolve herself of blame for continuing the war.

"She made it absolutely clear only recently in the Hindu that she was not interested in talks at all," said a UNP organiser in Colombo, referring to the interview the Indian newspaper published with President Chandrika last month.

"Kadirgamar made the PA's position on mediation quite clear to the international community only a few weeks ago," the official said. "Can [the President] explain his statements."

Sri Lanka's foreign minister categorically ruled out third party mediation during his recent visit to the United Nations in New York.

The ruling People's Alliance had no interest in negotiations as a successful military campaign against the LTTE was central to its election strategy, the UNP official said.

"Whilst it looked like the army had the upper hand, she consistently rejected efforts to solve the national problem through negotiations," he said. "Now she has forced the army into an impossible situation and is pretending she tried to negotiate."

 

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