Tigers "already implementing" Norway's MOU

[TamilNet, Monday, 29 January 2001, 20:30 GMT]
The Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim met the Liberation Tigers' chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham in London Monday prior to his visit to Sri Lanka, sources close to the LTTE said. Amongst other matters, Mr. Solheim had also discussed Norway's proposed memorandum of understanding to de-escalate the conflict, they said. The LTTE views the MOU positively, but would sign it only if Sri Lanka also accepted its part in it, Balasingham had told Solheim according to the sources.

Mr. Solheim is due in Colombo Tuesday, where he is expected to meet Sri Lankan government officials, as well as opposition figures, diplomatic sources in Colombo told TamilNet Monday.

LTTE sources told TamilNet that another meeting was expected between Mr. Solheim and Mr.Balasingham towards the end of the week, when the former completes his Sri Lankan visit.

Mr.Solheim is reported to have raised the issue of Norway's proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) in which both sides take mutual steps to de-escalate the conflict and bring about a conducive atmosphere for talks.

Recent press reports claimed that the LTTE had refused to sign the MOU.

However, Mr. Balasingham had clarified that the LTTE approved the MOU but were not prepared to sign it unless the Sri Lankan government also accepted its role as specified.

The LTTE's chief negotiator had pointed out that by unilaterally declaring a month-long ceasefire from December 24 and extending it on January 24, the Tigers' had already implemented the de-escalation steps required on their part as specified by the MOU.

"We're already observing the letter and spirit of the memorandum of understanding, by ceasing offensive operations all over the island, not only outside the north and east," Balasingham was quoted as saying.


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