LTTE official visits SLA held areas in Batticaloa
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 26 December 2001, 13:05 GMT]
An official of the Liberation Tigers visited areas held by the Sri Lankan security forces in Batticaloa south Wednesday. 'Thurai', the official in charge of the LTTE's dissemination division for the Batticaloa and Ampara districts had discussions with an officer of the Special Task Force (STF) at the Paddiruppu Bridge, a main entry point 24 kilometres south of the eastern town, around 10 a.m. Wednesday morning before proceeding to visit Kaluwanchikudy town and the villages to its north with a group of fighters.
The Tigers were unarmed but carried their cyanide capsules, dog tags and walkie talkies under the terms of the cessation of hostilities declared by the United National Front government, Sri Lankan Police sources in Kaluwanchikudy told Tamilnet.
The LTTE official and his men visited the villages of Kaluthawalai, Theththathivu, Kurukkalmadam and Kirankulam in a van and spoke to community leaders and villagers.
The LTTE was welcomed with soft drinks and refreshments in the all the villages, according to local residents.
The Tigers are expected to visit all the main towns of the district this week, an official of the Tamil National Alliance said. The Liberation Tigers visited the village of Kiran, 26 kilometres north of Batticaloa Tuesday and spoke to Sri Lanka army officers and soldiers there.
Meanwhile, Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, TNA MP for Batticaloa, visited the LTTE held Kokkaddicholai region west of Batticaloa Wednesday morning. "He was there to thank his supporters", the TNA official said.
|Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing a news conference at the Department of information in Colombo, Wednesday. On his left is Prof. G.L.Peris, Minister of Industrial Development.|
Meanwhile the United National Front government said Wednesday that peace talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam would not commence before March next year.
"The Government and the LTTE is expected to begin talks in the future. However the decision of the timeframe or the methods of holding talks with the LTTE has not yet been taken. My government would take initial steps to lay strong foundation for such talks", said the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe addressing a press conference Wednesday morning.
The Prime Minister said that "Norway would be recalled as a facilitator and already a request has been made in this regard."
He added "the peace talks held by the previous government collapsed because it failed to find a sound basis. The previous government did not show any attention to the needs of the people of northeast province. This was one of the major reasons for the collapse."
Mr.Wickremasinghe said, "My government is focussing its attention about the requirements of the people in the northeast province. The government intends to lift embargo on all goods except the military equipments to the N-E province".
"My government has decided to find a political solution to the ethnic problem without dividing the country and to achieve permanent peace. The political solution found in talks with the LTTE should be accepted to all communities in the country. The media has a major role to play in this regard," Mr.Wickremasinghe said.
A committee has been appointed to look into the hardships faced by the Tamil community. Another committee would be appointed next week to review the restrictions imposed on fishing in northeastern province, Mr.Wickremasinghe said.