UNP, PA meeting-"talks on Talks"
[TamilNet, Thursday, 09 March 2000, 09:10 GMT]
"Both side survived and we will meet again this month" said Sri Lanka's Opposition Leader Mr.Ranil Wickremesinghe coming from a two hour meeting with the President Chandrika Kumaratunga and seven of her senior cabinet ministers this afternoon around 1.30 a.m. "The first meeting went off well" he added.
The United National Party (UNP) leader told journalists that a joint communique about the meeting prepared by Prof.G.L.Pieris, Minister for Constitutional Affairs and Mr.K.N Choksy (UNP) will be issued later today.
This is being done to preclude any misunderstanding arising over the contents of the discussions he said.
Journalists were invited to the Opposition leader's office this afternoon for a press briefing at his office about the conference of the International Democratic Union scheduled to begin in Colombo tomorrow.
The discussion between the government and the opposition delegations had taken place mainly on the basis of the 1997 proposals of the PA for constitutional reform. The two sides had discussed the process or agenda for the dialogue. A journalist asked Mr.Wickremesinghe whether today's meeting was "talks on Talks". "It could be" he replied.
The UNP leader said that the question of the executive Presidential system was not discussed at today's meeting.
Asked whether he was served Kiribath (milk rice) by the President he retorted that he will publish the menu next time he sees her (leading Sri Lankan political columnists give details of menus of items served at such meetings in their tediously or juicily ball by ball accounts of weekly developments in the corridors of power)
"We have to meet again" said the opposition leader. Government sources indicated this afternoon that another round of talks will be held later this month.
The UNP delegation comprised Mr.Wickremesinghe, party chairman Mr.Karu Jayasuriya, UNP General Secretary Mr. Gamini Athukorale MP, Mr.K.N Choksy MP and Mr.Ronnie de Mel MP.
The government side led by the President was represented by Mr.M.H.M Ashraff Minister for Shipping, Ports and Rehabilitation (east), Prof.G.L Pieris Minister for Constitutional Affairs, Mr. D.M Jayaratne, Minister for Agriculture and Lands, Mr.Batty Weerakoon Minister for Science and Technology, Mr. Ratnasiri Wickremenayaka, Minister for Plantation Industries and Mr.Kusumsiri Balapatabendi, Secretary to the President.